Water Quality in Tampa, Florida
Watershed: Spillway 20
What is the water quality like in Tampa, FL?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Tampa water.
What’s in Tampa water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Radium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 12 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
6 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Tampa’s water come from?
Tampa’s water comes from the Spillway 20 watershed.
31 of the 33 EPA assessed water sources in the Spillway 20 watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Bellows Lake Outlet
- Cedar Lake (East)
- Chapman Lake
- Cow House Creek
- Fish Creek
- Henry Street Canal
- Hillsborough Reservoir
- Hillsborough River – 2 segments
- Lake Eckles
- Lemon Street Ditch
- Six Mile Creek (Tampa Bypass Canal
- Sulphur Springs
- Sulphur Springs Drain
- Sweetwater Creek
- Ybor City Drain
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition. Lake Estes and Twin Lake are in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Tampa’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 11 of the 12 contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 11 of the 12 contaminants in your whole house, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your home.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Chromium (total)
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Selenium – toxicity
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.tampa.gov/departments to find contact information for your local officials.