US /

Florida City Famous for Its Water Now Has Water Woes

Zephyrhills is using a lot of it thanks to a booming population
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Florida City Known for Its Water Has a Water Problem
   (Getty Images / z1b)

Zephyrhills, located inland from Tampa, Florida, is famous for its water. In fact, it calls itself the "City of Pure Water." But thanks to a population explosion—13,000 residents in 2010 ballooned to 20,000 in 2022—there are growing concerns that the city's water allowance just isn't enough, reports the Washington Post. The city is allowed a max of 3.3 million gallons a day, and it has come uncomfortably close to hitting that this year, averaging 2.9 million gallons a day, reports WFLA. Exceeding the max would result in a sizable fine. So the Zephyrhills council in June approved a yearlong moratorium on new construction. As councilman Ken Burgess told the Post, Zephyrhills just needs "to pump the brakes and get the developers to slow down."

City Manager Billy Poe told the Tampa Bay Times that when factoring in the projects already in development, the city realized "we were going to be short of water." It has applied to up its allowance to 4 million gallons. WFLA notes Zephyrhills-branded water bottled by BlueTriton represents 14.5% of the city's daily allotment, and the Post explains that water hails from springs "and not Zephyrhills' water supply, which is drawn from wells in agricultural fields outside city limits."

There's an environmental aspect to it all, with the Post explaining when too much water is pumped from wells, saltwater intrusion can occur and sinkholes can develop. The state is looking at different ways to obtain water, like desalination plants and treated wastewater. As one water official puts it, "Florida's a peninsula. ... We're going to run out of cheap water, but we will never run out of water." (More Tampa stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.