Permit changes may help with south Hillsborough County water woes
Demand for water in southern Hillsborough County is very high and the South-Central Hillsborough Regional Wellfield is nearing its permit limit. The 12-month running average pumping rate for this wellfield was 23.85 million gallons per day (mgd) at the end of November 2021, just under the permitted annual average limit of 24.1 mgd, and Tampa Bay Water may exceed the permit quantity as early as January 2022. Hillsborough County has added more watering restrictions, but demand is being fueled by unprecedented growth in the area, and new construction is exempt from some restrictions to allow new landscapes to take root.
To meet demand, Tampa Bay Water has been assessing whether the permitted limit for the South-Central Hillsborough Regional Wellfield can be increased. An updated groundwater model study shows the annual average permit quantity can be increased to 24.95 mgd without causing any environmental impacts while still meeting regulatory requirements from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Tampa Bay Water staff met with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) and Hillsborough County staff on December 1st to discuss the findings of the study. As a result, Tampa Bay Water intends to submit a permit application to increase the annual average quantity from this wellfield to the board at its January 2022 meeting.
Additionally, Tampa Bay Water staff are working with Hillsborough County to evaluate the capital costs, schedule, and regulatory requirements to permit, drill and equip two or three wells on lands purchased by the County from Ag-Mart last year and to convert the test well from the proposed South Hillsborough Wellfield to a full production well. This water supply concept evaluation will be brought back to the Tampa Bay Water Board in 2022.