Tampa Bay Water Service Area Is Under a Critical Water Shortage Alert

Low water level marker

Tougher Restrictions Aim to Conserve Dwindling Water Supplies

Faced with the impacts from an ongoing, three-year drought, the District’s Governing Board enacted its strongest water shortage restrictions in February and March to address water needs while protecting the water resources. Seven of the counties within the District’s 16-county region are now under critical or extreme water shortage alerts.

The District identifies four possible levels of water shortage, beginning with “moderate” and increasing in intensity through “severe,” “extreme” and “critical.”

With river flows, aquifer levels and lake levels remaining far below normal, the region’s water shortage status ranges from “severe” to “critical.” The District’s color-coded Water Shortage Alert map graphically identifies the status for each county in the District (see map).

All water restrictions are in effect through June 30, 2009.

In the Tampa Bay Water service area, the Governing Board enacted its highest level of water shortage restrictions, Modified Phase IV (or Critical). Tampa Bay Water is facing the biggest water shortage challenge in the District. The lack of river flows caused by the drought combined with the emptying of the 15-billion-gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir is putting more pressure on already stressed groundwater sources. Tampa Bay Water has announced that it expects to exceed its permitted groundwater quantities until at least the summer rainfalls return to make up for reductions in available surface water.

Tampa Bay Water’s six member governments include Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties as well as Tampa, New Port Richey and St. Petersburg. However, Tampa residents must follow the city’s restrictions that ban irrigating your lawn with sprinklers.

In addition to the member utilities, cities that receive water from one of the six member governments must also follow the new restrictions. The cities include Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Largo, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Seminole, Treasure Island, Clearwater, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Port Richey, Safety Harbor, South Pasadena and Tarpon Springs. Residents who receive water from Aloha Utilities in Pasco County must also follow the Phase IV restrictions.

Some of the major changes include:

  • Less hours to irrigate on your watering day
  • No residential car washing and no charity car washes
  • Pressure washing by professional businesses is allowed for certain purposes
  • Aesthetic fountains and other water features must be turned off

Residents are also urged to continue conserving water indoors and outdoors of their homes and businesses. Residents should also consider turning off their irrigation systems when it rains. With outdoor irrigation accounting for as much as 50 percent of residential water usage, skipping a week of watering can result in a significant water savings.

For more information about watering restrictions in your area, contact your local utility or find telephone and web contact info at WaterMatters.org/restrictions