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Water-Related News

Tampa PIPES program aims to reduce “non-revenue water”

Water losses averaged about 12.8% in the last fiscal year. That's more than 2.6 billion gallons.

TAMPA — Billions of gallons of treated water are lost every year in Tampa, and it's driving up customers' water bills.

The city is now working to stop those losses, but it may take years to see major improvements.

Tampa's drinking water comes from the Hillsborough River. It is filtered, pumped into reservoirs, treated with chemicals then sent through a network of underground pipes serving 145,000 residential and commercial customers.

But each day, millions of gallons are never measured by water meters or billed to customers, resulting in water loss.

"There is a cost to it, and it's real, and it's in the millions," said Tampa Water Department Director Chuck Weber.

There’s no free water

Weber says most of the losses are the result of leaking pipes.

“There’s no free water. Water isn’t free. It costs money to treat it. So in some way, in some form, ultimately the ratepayers are paying for that water that is lost in the system,” Weber said.

A few water-main breaks make the news, shutting down roads and sometimes even forcing residents to boil water.

But Weber says most leaks are far less dramatic.