Alternative water supplies in treated river water and desalinated seawater allowed Tampa Bay Water to reduce groundwater withdrawals, a requirement of the original Consolidated Permit.
When the permit was renewed the first time in 2011, an additional requirement called for Tampa Bay Water to complete a Permit Recovery Assessment Plan evaluating the environmental recovery and identifying any remaining adverse impacts from groundwater pumping before the permit was to be renewed again in 2020.
To address this requirement, Tampa Bay Water developed a multi-year study of environmental health and the effects of its wellfield pumping reductions. Tampa Bay Water and the District agreed the plan would focus on the recovery of the wetland and lake water levels as the environmental features of greatest concern.
The Consolidated Permit is Tampa Bay Water’s most significant and important permit — it accounts for about half the water we deliver, making it the single-largest piece of the water supply portfolio for the Tampa Bay region.
Using methodologies developed in cooperation with the District, Tampa Bay Water assessed the environmental recovery at lakes and wetlands achieved through the reduction of groundwater pumping in the northern wellfields. Throughout the assessment, Tampa Bay Water and the District documented site conditions, evaluated data and verified recovery results at many lakes and wetlands. Between 2012 and 2020, utility and district staff completed more than 130 technical meetings and field reviews. In total, they studied 1,360 lakes and wetlands through this evaluation, and this recovery assessment plan is the first of its kind to be performed in the United States.