CLEARWATER, Fla. – Weather forecasters predicted the La Nina event would make this a dry spring and fall across the south, but the phenomenon is affecting water use more than anticipated. The lack of rain for more than one month has led many residents to increase outdoor watering, causing spikes in demand for water that are unprecedented this early in the annual dry season. These record high demands have Tampa Bay Water stressing the importance of conservation.
“Tampa Bay Water has developed water supplies that allow us to bridge the gap between rainy seasons while maintaining environmental recovery in the wellfields,” said Dave Bracciano, demand management coordinator for Tampa Bay Water. “But our ability to rotate between these supplies becomes more limited during the dry season. We continue to need residents to conserve and follow their watering restrictions so this recovery is maintained.”
On average, Tampa Bay Water’s member governments use about 245 million gallons of water per day (mgd)—enough to fill the St. Petersburg Times Forum more than four-and-one-half times. Last weekend, water demand in the region spiked to more than 300 mgd, more than a 20 percent increase over what is usually expected during March and about a 29 percent increase over the same period last year.
“We are seeing demands similar to the peak of the spring dry season, which typically occurs in late May,” said Bracciano. “We currently have adequate water supplies, but conserving now would ensure Tampa Bay Water’s ability to better manage those supplies and continue providing high quality water to the region.”
Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting that dry conditions will continue in Florida through the remainder of spring. La Nina refers to a cooling of the surface waters in the Pacific, which generally brings dry weather to Florida and most other southern states.
Tampa Bay Water is Florida’s largest wholesale water supplier. Its members — Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa — supply water to more than 2.4 million people in the region. For more water conservation information, go to www.tampabaywater.org.
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