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In 1996, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) published the final report of a multi-year study which assessed the regional water resources of the Northern Tampa Bay area. This study, known as the Northern Tampa Bay Water Resources Assessment Project (NTBWRAP), was an effort to better understand the current state of the water resources of the area, as well as to provide the foundation for future, more detailed, hydrogeologic and biologic studies.
Since that time, the District entered into a Partnership Agreement with Tampa Bay Water and its member governments to reduce ground-water withdrawals in the area from 158 mgd to 90 mgd by 2007. The District also established a Minimum Flows and Levels Rule (40D-8, F.A.C.), which includes minimum levels for cypress wetlands, lakes, and aquifers, as well as a Recovery and Prevention Stategy for Northern Tampa Bay (40D-80, F.A.C.).
As a follow-up to previous hydrologic and biologic analyses performed in the Northern Tampa Bay area, the District launched a new program known as the Northern Tampa Bay Phase II program (NTB II), which included technical assessments to support the recovery effort. A second phase of recovery was adopted by the District’s Governing Board in 2010 (40D-80, F.A.C.), and the Northern Tampa Bay Phase III program was developed.
The NTB III program also includes a Local Technical Peer Review Group (LTPRG), consisting of scientists and water managers from throughout the Northern Tampa Bay area. The LTPRG will provide technical input and evaluation on the various projects included in the NTB III program.
The process of minimum flows and levels adoption is outlined in both Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, and Chapter 40-8, Florida Administrative Code. In accordance with these requirements, a minimum flows and levels adoption process has been developed, which includes review by the Local Technical Peer Review Group and voluntary scientific peer review by outside experts.