District May Activate Tampa Bypass Canal System to Help Prevent River Flooding

News Release

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) may need to activate the Tampa Bypass Canal system in response to heavy rains in the Tampa Bay area. Boat barriers were put in place where I-75 crosses the Hillsborough River, restricting navigation in that area.

The Hillsborough River is nearing an elevation of 25 feet above sea level, which triggers the Army Corps of Engineers activation level of the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention (LHFDA) area. This involves stopping all or part of the flow of the Hillsborough River before it reaches the City of Temple Terrace and City of Tampa and impounding it in the LHFDA, which will assist with flooding from the Hillsborough River in the cities of Temple Terrace and Tampa.

District staff stops the flow of the river by closing the S-155 structure. The S-155 structure is located north of Morris Bridge Road and east of I-75 and can be seen from I-75 as you cross the Hillsborough River.

The Tampa Bypass Canal system was constructed in response to massive flooding caused by Hurricane Donna in 1960. The system is designed to impound flood waters from the Hillsborough River into the 16,000-acre LHFDA. As the detention area fills with water from the River and the surrounding 450-square-mile watershed, the flows then enter the Tampa Bypass Canal and are safely diverted to McKay Bay, bypassing the cities of Temple Terrace and Tampa.

The system is made up of five flood control structures located along the 15.7-mile canal. In addition to providing flood control, the Tampa Bypass Canal also serves as a water supply source to help meet the drinking water needs of the Tampa Bay area.