The city of Tampa is currently suffering its third consecutive year of a drought, and many students feel free from the environmental concerns that surround them.
However, the issue lies much closer to campus then most students thought.
According to Dr. Al Karlin, a UT biology professor and senior GIS analyst of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWM), the Hillsborough River which runs east side of campus ‘is in trouble.’
The Southwest Florida Water Management District evaluates each river for what they feel is the minimum flow level that is needed for existing life to live. There is a dam below the Hillsborough River which allows salt water from the Tampa Bay to enter during low tides and to release during high tides.
‘This is where the problem begins,’ said Karlin. ‘Since the water level in the river is so low, the salt water cannot escape. This affects the animals that depend on certain salinities of water to live.’
Mike Moligan, a public relations representative from the SFWM, explained the steps the city is taking to address the water shortage. ‘The city of Tampa is in a phase four water shortage. Water use is being restricted by reducing the hours for outside irrigation, fountains, and car washing,’ he said. Unfortunately, Moligan does not believe that these steps alone will stop the problem.
‘We are in a 30 inch deficit of rain fall over the last three years, and this will leave a long term effect on the reservoir,’ said Moligan.
In the mean time, University of Tampa students can do their part in stopping the drought.
Karlin suggests placing a bucket in the shower while students wait for the water to heat up to catch the water that would have otherwise been wasted. Concerned freshman, Michelle O’Brien said, ‘I’m personally trying to cut back on my water usage, I have been taking shorter showers and turning the water off while I’m brushing my teeth.’
For more tips on how to help reduce the drought visit http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us.