The nation's first, large-scale seawater desalination plant is delivering drinking water to more than 2.5 million residents of the Tampa Bay area. It's a timely solution as continued drought is forecast across the southeastern United States.
While parts of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina are facing exceptional drought conditions, officials in west-central Florida say their residents are benefiting from the nation's first drought-proof drinking water supply, a project pioneered by the area's regional utility, Tampa Bay Water.
"Nearly a decade ago the Tampa Bay region suffered from an extreme drought, just as we are currently, and at that time we explored how we might drought-proof our system so that this didn't have catastrophic consequences," said Jerry Maxwell, General Manager of Tampa Bay Water, "As we did so seawater was a natural place for us to look. We live in Florida, we are on a peninsula, surrounded by seawaters, and even though it hadn't been undertaken on a large-scale, it seemed the natural thing to do."