The C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir in Lithia stores drinking water for local residents.

Local skies have been full of clouds this winter, but the amount of rain produced so far is leaving the Tampa Bay area in drought conditions that have officials calling for continued conservation efforts from the community.

Water used by Hillsborough County residents is provided by Tampa Bay Water, the regional utility responsible for providing a safe and reliable flow of water in the region. Officials said there is still enough water to go around and cited recent rains and cooler temperatures as factors that are helping the situation, but conservation is still essential to ensuring things stay that way.

“We have plenty of water to meet the region’s needs, but it means we may go over our permitted groundwater pumping limits if rain is inconsistent, if we have a warm spring and early summer and if residents don’t follow watering restrictions,” said Warren Hogg, chief science officer at Tampa Bay Water. “We ask that everyone treat water like the precious and limited resource that it is.”

The ongoing dryer weather that has prevailed over the west coast of Florida recently means that the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir in Lithia is filled to less than half of its storage capacity of 15.5 billion gallons of water. According to Tampa Bay Water, the reservoir contained 7.21 billion gallons of water as of January 20. The utility also announced a 12-month rainfall shortage of 9.3 inches in January and a reduction in the daily flow of the Hillsborough River of 9.1 million gallons.

The dry conditions and deficit in stored water come at a time when the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant in Apollo Beach is going offline for maintenance until later this year. According to Tampa Bay Water, up to 10 percent of the region’s drinking water comes from desalination, which means the temporary absence of the plant’s production will make the supply of usable water more reliant on sources such as rivers and groundwater pumped via wells.

Current watering restrictions limit property owners and managers to irrigating on one scheduled day per week, as determined by the property’s address. Watering is also restricted to hours before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Using reclaimed water for lawns and landscapes is exempt from the restrictions.

More information, including the watering day schedule, can be found at

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Brad Stager
Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.