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Tampa is purchasing water to address a lack of rainfall

A line of buoys along the Hillsborough Dam.
City of Tampa
/
Courtesy
The Tampa Water Department says it’s taking measures to address what it calls a seasonal drought affecting the city.

It's due to low levels in the Hillsborough River Reservoir, Tampa's main source of water. The U.S. Drought Monitor says parts of Hillsborough County are under an "extreme drought."

The Tampa Water Department says it’s taking measures to address what it calls a seasonal drought affecting the city.

On Thursday, the department began buying water from wholesale drinking water provider Tampa Bay Water, which supplies Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, as well as New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.

According to a news release, the city says it's responding to a lack of recent rainfall in the area. Tampa’s dry season usually runs from October to May.

From Oct. 1 to March 31, the Tampa area saw 10.99 inches of observed rainfall, according to the National Weather Service. The number falls below the 30-year normal of 14.09 inches.

From Jan. 1 to March 31, the weather service says the Tampa area had 2.36 inches of observed rainfall. That’s 30% of the 30-year normal of 7.79 inches.

New data from the U.S. Drought Monitor also shows parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties under an “extreme drought.”

A map by the U.S. Drought Monitor showing drought conditions in Florida. Parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties are marked in red for “Extreme Drought.”
U.S. Drought Monitor
A map by the U.S. Drought Monitor showing drought conditions in Florida.

The release says the lack of rain has decreased the levels in the Hillsborough River Reservoir, Tampa's main source of water. Rising demand for drinking water has also led the city to take more from the reservoir, approaching its limit of 82 million gallons of water per day.

Water purchases will continue until levels in the reservoir are restored, according to the release.

Some Tampa Water customers, especially in the New Tampa area, may notice their drinking water tastes or smells different. The city says this is due to a difference in the water source; water bought from Tampa Bay Water can be a mix of groundwater, surface water or desalinated water.

“Although some of our customers may notice taste and odor differences, the water remains safe to drink and use in their homes and businesses,” John Ring, water production manager for the Tampa Water Department, said in the release.

Tampa water customers will also see extra charges on their utility bill. The charges, listed as “TBW Pass-Through,” will likely start appearing on customers’ August or September statements, according to the release.

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