By Brad Stager
Local residents can play a role in ensuring the water coming out of their faucets is the best quality possible and they can do so with funding from Tampa Bay Water.
Drinking water in Hillsborough County comes via different sources, such as surface water from the area’s rivers, ground water from wells that tap into the aquifer and even the briny waters of Tampa Bay through desalination.
As the region’s supplier of drinking water, Tampa Bay Water has an interest in protecting its product at the source, wherever that may be. It offers support through its Source Water Protection Mini-grant Program in the form of grants to community organizations, nonprofit entities and schools for projects such as cleanups that reduce water pollution or awareness campaigns that educate the public about taking care of the natural resource.
The program has a total of $30,000 available to fund projects. The grants are available in amounts of $2,000 to $10,000 per organization. Protecting water sources and their surrounding watershed environments is the purpose of the grants and projects must reflect that, according to published guidelines. Local water sources include the Hillsborough and Alafia Rivers, Tampa Bypass Canal, Tampa Bay and the Floridan aquifer.
To Tampa Bay Water officials, the grants are a way to invest in the future quality of the region’s drinking water.
“Protecting drinking water starts at the source,” said Michelle Stom, Tampa Bay Water’s chief communications officer. “Partnering with the community on this effort helps to ensure that the region has clean, safe water supplies for generations to come.”
The utility cites other benefits of protecting natural water sources, such as the need to use less energy and fewer chemicals to treat water that is not polluted, saving money.
The Source Water Protection Mini-grant Program is one of several ways that Tampa Bay Water involves the public in protecting drinking water resources. Other programs include rebates for individuals and businesses for installing water-efficient appliances, toilets or irrigation systems as well recognizing property owners who invest in Florida-friendly landscaping that use less water.
Grant applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 12. You can find more information and an application packet at tampabaywater.org. Notification of which projects will receive funding in 2022 will occur in December.