As the Tampa Bay area continues to grow, the region will need more water. Your voice is needed to help decide the next drinking water sources. If you live in Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas counties, you are invited to share your opinions on water supply projects at FutureWater.org.

Tampa Bay Water, the regional drinking water supplier to the Tampa Bay area, is working on a long-term plan to meet drinking water demands well into the future. Part of the agency’s planning process is collecting community input.

“Public input is essential to our planning process,” said Michelle Stom, chief communications officer for Tampa Bay Water.“ By working cooperatively with our member governments, community organizations, businesses and residents, we are able to improve our service to the Tampa Bay community.”

There is a short-list of projects to consider, each with its own technical, financial and environmental components. The new sources under consideration include additional seawater and river water, two sources currently serving the region, as well as options that use highly treated reclaimed water as a new source.

FutureWater.org offers detailed information on each project, features a video overview, provides the ability to sign-up for a telephone town hall to discuss the projects live, and offers a survey to collect input.

Based on projections, the Tampa Bay area will need to have additional drinking water ready in 2028. Input is needed now to ensure there is enough time for the design, permitting and construction process. Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors is expected to review the projects and community feedback before its December 2018 meeting when the board will be selecting a project or projects to move forward for more study, design and permitting.

Planning ahead is always smart, especially when it comes to something as important as drinking water. Now is the time to be part of the conversation — so we have the right supply ready at the right time to keep our region growing and thriving.

Visit FutureWater.org to learn more and be heard.

Locally, the 15.5-billion gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir makes the region’s water supply more drought resistant, reliable and flexible. Surface water from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Hillsborough and Alafia rivers is stored in the reservoir during wet times. During dry times, when river is unavailable, water stored in the reservoir is withdrawn, treated and blended with other supplies to serve the region.

To learn more, visit tampabaywater.org.