Tampa Bay Diversifies Water Sources to Reduce Climate Risk
Tampa Bay Water provides drinking water for nearly two and a half million residents on the gulf coast of Florida. Historically, the utility relied largely on groundwater to satisfy the nearly 250 million gallons of water required per day (mgd). The utility’s operators recognized the increasing vulnerability of its groundwater source to saltwater intrusion and completed construction of a desalination plant in 2008. The utility now delivers ‘blended’ water using groundwater, surface water, and desalinated water. However, Tampa Bay Water faces numerous risks from climate change including more frequent and intense storms as well as flooding and the aforementioned threat of saltwater intrusion. Therefore, the utility operators decided to more systematically estimate its source water vulnerability to projected changes in precipitation levels and saltwater intrusion and assess its ability to meet an anticipated increase in demand of water to 275 mgd by 2035.
The analysis confirmed Tampa Bay Water’s previous good judgment of diversifying its water sources and indicated that its upgraded system likely enables the utility to meet its anticipated future needs even in a changing climate. Tampa Bay Water continues to anticipate, plan and prepare for the challenges of a changing climate through working with the Water Utility Climate Alliance, a collaboration among ten of the country’s water utilities that provide leadership on climate issues, and the Florida Water Climate Alliance, a collaboration among state universities, water utilities and water management agencies focusing on climate change.
|How Did They Do It?||Applicable EPA Tools|
|Tampa Bay Water diversified water sources to protect its groundwater resource
Adaptation Strategies Guide identifies strategies for how utilities can protect source water from climate change, including from saltwater intrusion.
|Tampa Bay Water found partners, secured funding, and conducted a vulnerability assessment
Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) helps utilities identify current and future climate impacts and assess vulnerability of water utility facilities.
Similar Cases and More Information
Many communities in the southeast may have to deal with challenges to their source water, whether it is saltwater intrusion, sea level rise or threats to the facilities infrastructure. To learn more about Tampa Bay’s decision to diversify its source water resiliency to current and future conditions view Tampa Bay Water's case study on the Climate Resilience Toolkit. For another water utility that adapted against concerns for saltwater intrusion, view the Anacortes Sea Level Rise Study.