SFWMD Board Activates Critical Water Restrictions

The Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board voted to enact Modified Phase IV (or Critical) Water Shortage restrictions for potable water use in the Tampa Bay Water service area, officials announced on March 31. These are the district's highest level of water shortage measures.

The Tampa Bay Water's six member governments include Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties as well as the cities of Tampa, New Port Richey, and St. Petersburg.

In addition to the member utilities, cities that receive water from one of the six member governments must also follow the new restrictions.

The Phase IV order prohibits certain activities, reduces lawn watering hours, and limits the use of water-based air conditioning.

Residents in the three-county area using other sources of water, such as private well water or water from other utilities, remain under Modified Phase III restrictions declared in October 2008. The major difference between the Phase III and Phase IV orders is the need for additional action to support water utilities with critically low supply storage and other infrastructure concerns.

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." All water restrictions are currently in effect through June 30.

In addition to declaring a Modified Phase IV Water Shortage, the district continues to implement several emergency authorizations including:

  • Allowing Tampa Bay Water to increase withdrawals from the Tampa Bypass Canal to help meet the city of Tampa's potable water demand.
  • Allowing Tampa Bay Water to increase withdrawals from the Alafia River when sufficient flows are available.
  • Allowing the city of Tampa to withdraw water from Sulfur Springs to augment its reservoir, reducing its need to buy water from Tampa Bay Water's regional system.
  • Testing the possibility of using the Morris Bridge Sinkhole as another temporary water supply.

For more information, visit WaterMatters.org/restrictions/.