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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Report a Leak

  1. How do I report a leak in the City's water system?

Bill and Fees

  1. How do I start, stop or transfer water service?

  2. Who should I call with questions about my water bill?

  3. What are connection fees?

  4. How do I know if my home or business is located within the City of Tampa service area?

Water Use Restrictions

  1. Why does the City maintain water use restrictions during periods when it is raining frequently?

  2. I am a Tampa Water Department customer but live in Unincorporated Hillsborough County. Whose water restrictions do I follow?

  3. My mailing address is Tampa. Doesn't that mean I live inside the city limits?

  4. How can I report a suspected water use violation and how do I know if it was followed up?

  5. I received a water use citation. What do I do?

  6. I just got a water use violation citation for irrigating new plant materials. I thought that was allowed. Who do I call?

  7. Do the water use restrictions include water uses other than irrigation?

  8. I'd like to convert my yard to Florida-friendly landscaping but I live in a deed-restricted community that requires the use of specific plant materials. What can I do?

Boil Water Notice

  1. What is a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

  2. Why do these conditions call for boiling water?

  3. What does boiling water accomplish?

  4. How does the Tampa Water Department inform customers about boil water notices?

  5. What does the Tampa Water Department do during a boil water notice?

  6. What should I do if I already drank the water before knowing about the Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

  7. If there is a filter on my kitchen faucet and/or one in my refrigerator, is that water safe to drink?

  8. Is it safe to shower during a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

  9. Is it safe for my pets to drink the water during a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

  10. What should the customer do after the boil water notice is lifted?

Water Quality and Service

  1. Someone contacted me about a free in-home water test. Do they represent the City of Tampa?

  2. What is a backflow device and why do I need one?

  3. I am making a plumbing repair. Am I allowed to use the curb stop valve in the water meter box to turn off my water?

  4. Why isn't reclaimed water available in my neighborhood?

  5. What is grey water and how can it be used?

  6. Do I need to buy a water softener? What is the hardness of Tampa's drinking water?

  7. I recently started noticing a white film on my dishes. What is causing that?


  8.  

    How do I report a leak?

    If you are reporting a WATER LEAK, for best service. Call 813-274-8811, option #4. Additional information MUST be collected in order to expedite handling.

     

    How do I start, stop or transfer water service?

    City of Tampa Utilities is a part of the Water Department's Distribution and Consumer Services Division and is responsible for the monthly utility billing of water, wastewater and solid waste services provided by the City. The Utilities Call Center Operations section handles all consumer inquiries, utility account services, and system maintenance requests. You can find more information at tampagov.net/COTU or by calling the Utilities Call Center at (813) 274-8811. Find additional information on starting water service with the City of Tampa.

     

    Who should I call with water bill questions?

    If you have any questions about your bill, call the Utilities Call Center at (813) 274-8811. The Call Center provides customer services for Tampa's Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste departments.

     

    What are connection fees?

    Connection fees are one-time charges to property owners who want to become customers of the Tampa water system. These fees do not apply to properties that already are paying for water service. Those affected may include new construction, properties being switched from well water to City water, or properties where prior service lines have been abandoned. Connection fees vary. Call the Tampa Water Department Engineering Planning Section at (813) 274-8121 for more information.

     

    Why does the City maintain water use restrictions during periods when it is raining frequently?

    The establishment of year-round water use restrictions allows Tampa to "bank" water in its ASRs and Reservoir during wet periods for the community to use during dry periods. Year-round restrictions help ensure a sufficient quantity of drinking water for the Tampa community.

    Year-round restrictions are established under Tampa Code Sec. 26-97 and Chapter 40D-22, F.A.C.

     

     

    I am a Tampa Water Department customer but live in Unincorporated Hillsborough County. Whose water restrictions do I follow?

    The adoption of water use restrictions is contained in the City's Code of Ordinances and the jurisdiction to enforce the restrictions extends only to the municipal boundaries of the City. Water use restrictions for Tampa Water Department customers residing in unincorporated Hillsborough County are set by Hillsborough County and enforced by Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.

     

    Tampa customers outside the city limits should contact Hillsborough County Water Restriction Information Line at (813) 275-7094 for more information about county water use restrictions. Hillsborough County restrictions may be viewed at http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?nid=1339

     

     

    My mailing address is Tampa. Doesn't that mean I live inside the city limits?

    Mailing addresses are not good indicators of municipal boundaries. Customers unclear on where their property is located can consult their property records for their Tax District.  To view communities the Tampa Water Department serve outside the city limits, a service area map is available online.

     

     

    How can I report a suspected water use violation and how do I know if it was followed up?

    There are two mechanisms for making reports of possible water use violations: call the Water Conservation Violation Hotline at (813) 274-8036 and leave a detailed message about the suspected violation, including address, date and time, and the nature of the suspected violation, or online by submitting a Citizen Action Request through the City's Customer Service Center. You may remain anonymous, if desired.

    We provide follow-up to 100 percent of reports received, but the volume of reports prevents us from providing specific feedback to individuals making reports.

     

     

    I received a water use citation. What do I do?

    Violating Tampa's water use restrictions is a civil infraction, which results in the issuance of a citation.

     

    If you receive a City of Tampa water use citation and believe that the water use for which you were cited is one of the permitted uses defined in the applicable water use restrictions, please call (813) 349-5014 or within 30 calendar days after receiving the citation.

     

    If the water use for which you were cited does not meet one of the permitted uses defined in the applicable water use restrictions and you wish to contest the citation, you may elect to appear in court to present your information to the judge for a decision.  We recommend that you refer to the correspondence included with the citation packet for additional information about contesting a citation.

     

    If you elect to pay the fine, you can either pay the fine directly to the City of Tampa within 45 calendar days from the date of the citation or after 45 calendar days payment may only be made to the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court. Specific information for making payment is located on the reverse of the citation.

    • Payment of Fine directly to the City of Tampa (this option is only available within 45 calendar days from the date of the citation): Payment can be made online or by mail.

    • Payment of Fine after 45 calendar days to the Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court: Payment can be made in person or by mail.

    The City of Tampa cannot process citation payments sent in with your utility bill.  Any payment attempted in this manner will be returned to the citation recipient for proper handling and may cause delays in payment that result in additional court fees.

     

    Please note:  If the total penalty assessed on the citation is not paid within 45-days following the date on the citation, your case will be placed on the docket for a hearing with Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Failure to appear in court results in a default judgment of guilty when the case is called in court and an assessment of fines and fees, as determined by the judge. Failure to settle any fines assessed by the Court may result in increased penalties up to and including property liens.

     

    To request a continuation of a court date or discuss options for paying a City of Tampa water use citation more than 45 days after the citation was issued, please contact the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court at (813) 276-2029, ext. 4325.

     

     

    I just got a water use violation citation for irrigating new plant materials. I thought that was allowed. Who do I call?

    Water use restrictions set out specific guidelines for irrigating new plant materials. Please call the Water Enforcement Office at (813) 349-5014 with questions about your citation and information about what to do if the irrigation you were cited for is allowed within the ordinance.

     

     

    Do the water use restrictions include water uses other than irrigation?

    Yes. A number of outdoor water use restrictions are included in the current restrictions, including restrictions related to the use of open hoses, testing of irrigation systems during prohibited hours, and watering-in of pesticides and fertilizers. Water restrictions do change in response to local and regional water supply conditions. It is suggested that all water users in Tampa review the restrictions and check the Water Use Restrictions web site periodically or subscribe to The Pipeline electronic newsletter for updates to ensure that they avoid a water use restriction citation.

     

     

    I'd like to convert my yard to Florida-friendly landscaping but I live in a deed-restricted community that requires the use of specific plant materials. What can I do?

    Florida Statute 720.3075 states that "Homeowners' association documents, including declarations of covenants, articles of incorporation, or bylaws, may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping, as defined in s. 373.185(1), on his or her land".

     

    The Hillsborough County Extension Office offers a service for community or condominium associations to provide free on-site landscape evaluations to officers or board members of associations and includes recommendations for problem areas. This may be a way to help convince your leadership of the value of using Florida-friendly landscapes in your community. Contact the Extension at (813) 744-5519 ext. 54142 for more information.

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    Someone contacted me about a free in-home water test. Do they represent the City of Tampa?

    Tampa Water Department employees all have photo ID cards and never ask to enter your home to take water samples.  If someone asks to enter your home to test your water, they are not from the Tampa Water Department.

     

    Companies that offer "free" home water tests may be trying to sell you water treatment products you don't need. The Tampa Water Department constantly tests and treats your water to make sure it is superior to all federal requirements for safe drinking water.

     

    Don't be pressured into making a hurried decision. Take time to think it over or talk with someone you trust. Don't ever give your credit card number to someone you don't know. Sellers may say they need the number for verification, then use it to make unauthorized charges to your account.

     

    Be suspicious if you're told that an in-home test has detected pollution or contamination in your water. In-home tests are rarely able to detect harmful substances. Tests that make tap water "change color" may fool you into thinking your water is unhealthy when it's perfectly safe.

     

    If you have any questions about water quality, call (813) 274-5657, and we'll send you the latest water quality report explaining how we keep Tampa's water safe or download the most recent quality report.

     

     

    What is a backflow device and why do I need one?

    A backflow device is a mechanical insert in your plumbing system on your side of the meter that prevents a reversal of water flow. Having backflow devices on water connections helps maintain drinking water quality throughout the system to ensure that all customers receive the highest quality water possible.

     

    Approved backflow prevention devices are required to be installed on the service connection to any premises that the department has identified as having a potential for backflow. Additionally, all irrigation systems are required to have backflow prevention devices, and any property which is connected both to potable water supplies and reclaimed water supplies is required to have the potable water supply protected by an approved backflow prevention device.

     

    Prevent potential cross connections or backflow resulting from a garden hose being submerged in a bucket, sink, pond, swimming pool, car radiator, or a chemical applicator attached to the hose by installing inexpensive hose bibb vacuum breakers, commonly available in the plumbing section of home improvement stores, between outdoor spigots and garden hoses.

     

    More information on backflow devices and cross connection requirements can be found at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website and Sections 26-79 through 26-86 of Tampa Code of Ordinances.

     

     

    I am making a plumbing repair. Am I allowed to use the curb stop valve in the water meter box to turn off my water?

    No, The curb stop is City property and Tampa City Code Section 26-70 prohibits anyone other than an authorized representative of the City from turning off or turning on water at the City's curb stop. Any damage to the City valve, water meter or service as a result of unauthorized use will be billed to the account holder. Customers can call the Water Emergency Service Section at (813) 274-7400 to request a field technician be dispatched to turn off and turn on water at the curb stop. Fees may apply.

     

    The fastest way to shut your water off is to locate your shut off valve (not to be confused with the City's curb stop), typically placed on the side of your home or structure. This valve is usually located in line with the meter box, low to the ground, sometimes behind bushes and on property. It is recommended that every home or structure have its own property shut off valve. This will help minimize water damage to property in cases of emergencies where the water is leaking. If your property does not have one, consider having one installed.

     

    If you are experiencing a leak at a fixture (such as a sink or toilet), there are small shut-off valves located underneath that can be used for a shut down in cases of emergencies or repair.

     

     

    Why isn't reclaimed water available in my neighborhood?

    The initial reclaimed water service areas were selected based on their concentration of heavy irrigation and their proximity to the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. These factors were important in ensuring the economic feasibility of the project.

     

    For continued expansion it was determined that large users have the highest potential to conserve drinking water and lowest investment cost to connect due to their higher water demands and proximity to the current system.  In September 2008, the Tampa Water Department signed an agreement with the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA), the City's first official larger reclaimed water user. The reclaimed water main was extended to Tampa International Airport and the HCAA began taking reclaimed water from the City in early 2010, initially for irrigation and then for their cooling towers. The City is installing a reclaimed water main larger than the size needed to meet the HCAA's demands to allow the City to potentially expand the reclaimed water system around the airport and toward Rocky Point.

    In addition to continuing negotiations with other large users, expansion plans are underway in other parts of Tampa as well. The reclaimed water system was extended to provide irrigation when the Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park opened in 2009; and plans continue to move forward to expand reclaimed water further down Bayshore Boulevard and the surrounding area.

     

    Additional expansion driven by larger users will allow reclaimed water service to expand to the residential users surrounding the new mains. If you are interested in becoming a reclaimed water customer, contact (813) 274-8811 for more information.

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    Do I need to buy a water softener? What is the hardness of Tampa's drinking water?

    Some companies sell water softeners to reduce the hardness of the water. The softener's purpose is to improve the aesthetics or feel of the water. Using a water softener is a matter of personal preference -- but, using a water softener may not improve the safety or quality of water as it relates to health

    As water travels over or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals such as calcium or magnesium. The 'hardness' of water refers to the amount of these minerals in the water. Because calcium or magnesium can prevent soaps from lathering or creating suds, cleaning with water containing high amounts of these minerals is considered 'hard' or difficult. Water containing very little calcium or magnesium is called 'soft' water. In general, water from wells contains more minerals because groundwater is exposed to the minerals longer.

    The hardness of Tampa's drinking water, primarily taken from the Hillsborough River, fluctuates throughout the year -- lower during the wet season and higher in the dry season -- between about 170 to 300 parts per million or 10 to 17 grains per gallon (one grain per gallon equals 17.2 parts per million). Water is considered 'hard' water at concentrations above 120 parts per million (Source: USGS).

     

    Hard water is fine to use and drink without a softener. Some people like the way their hair and skin feels when using soft water. Others don't like soft water because they feel the soap won't rinse off. People with hard water may notice white deposits on dishes, cooking pots or coffee makers. Some detergents now contain the softening ingredients to reduce and remove these deposits. The calcium in the water can deposit on faucets and shower curtains as a white residue (which is most easily cleaned with a rag soaked in vinegar).

    Many water softeners exchange sodium for existing calcium and magnesium in the water and therefore, increase the sodium content of the water. The sodium increase in softened water may be a concern to you. If you are on a sodium restricted diet, you may want to consult your physician. If you already have a water softener, continue to use it or remove the softener from the plumbing in your house. An unused softener can grow bacteria and may be a source of potential water contamination in your home. The softened water may be more corrosive and may harm your water pipes in your house. The resin beads in the water softener slowly break down and these break-down materials sometimes settle as deposits in the toilet tanks and in the water heater indicating your softened water may contain these materials.

    The cost of softening water is a factor that must be taken into consideration. Some water softeners have features to reduce water use. On-demand water softening equipment measures the demand and softens water only when needed. These units can save water by eliminating unnecessary regeneration cycles and making the most efficient use of water, salt and energy.

    If you are considering installing a water softener, the not-for-profit National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) independently tests home water treatment devices and has a guide to selecting the right household water treatment system to meet your needs online at www.nsf.org/consumer/drinking_water/selecting_dwtu.asp?program=WaterTre.

     

     

    I recently started noticing a white film on my dishes. What is causing that?

    At the David L. Tippin  Water Treatment Facility, the chemicals used to purify Tampa's drinking water have not changed. The treatment process has been the same since 2000.

    We have learned that many automatic dishwasher detergent manufactures have recently changed their formulas in order to comply with laws requiring them to be phosphate free. We understand that some consumers may be experiencing filming when using these new formulas.

    Here are some tips that can help prevent filming going forward:

    • Not using enough detergent in hard water area can cause hard water minerals and soils to settle back on the dishes, causing an unsightly film;

    • Using a rinse aid will help to rinse away food particles and residues that can cause spots on dishes;

    • Water temperature should be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). Run hot water at kitchen sink before starting the cycle;

    • To prevent low water pressure, run dishwasher when no other water is being used (showers, grass watering, washing machine); and

    • Make sure no items block the dishwasher sprayer arms so that enough water reaches all the dishes.

    To Remove Filming/Spotting:

    • First, remove all metal items from your dishwasher and wash them with soap by hand (vinegar is too acidic for metal items, but safe for stainless steel);

    • Put two cups of white vinegar in a bowl and place on the bottom rack of your dishwasher;

    • Run your dishwasher through a cycle without adding any detergent;

    • Then, re-wash in the dishwasher using the dish washer detergent or by hand using a hand dishwashing detergent to remove any vinegar residue.

    If you have any further questions about your filming issue, it is recommended that customers contact their dish washer and detergent manufacturers for further assistance.

     

     

    What is a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

    It is a notification that advises customers to boil tap water used for drinking or cooking until tests verify the water is safe. It is put out in order to encourage our customers to boil their water due to a disruption in the system that could possibly allow for the contamination of water. A Precautionary Boil Water Notice does not mean that the water is contaminated but because the quality of the water is unknown, customers should take precautions and assume that the water is unsafe for drinking.

     

    These notices are usually issued because of a required shutdown of our water distribution system due to scheduled maintenance or an emergency repair. Shutting down the system can cause a loss of water pressure that could allow contaminants to enter. We issue boil water notices as a precaution even when contamination is unlikely. We recommend that our customers subscribe to the City's Alert Tampa emergency notification system to receive wide-spread boil water notifications and other important information.


    During the notice, boiled water should be used for any activity that may result in ingestion or contact with mucus membranes or broken skin. Consumption includes brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, and homemade ice. Tap water may be used for showering, baths, shaving and washing, so long as care is taken not to swallow or allow water in eyes or nose or mouth. Children and disabled individuals should have their bath supervised to ensure water is not ingested. The time spent bathing should be minimized. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immuno-suppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the notice is lifted. Individuals may wish to contact a health care provider for specific recommendations.

     

    Precautionary Boil Water Notice - What Should You Do? Adobe PDF file
     

    Businesses and other non-residential sites should take steps such as posting notices at or disabling water fountains and ice machines during the notice. If you provide water to visitors or employees, use commercially produced bottled water for drinking or beverage preparation (coffee). Food service operations have additional requirements from their regulatory agency.


    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has online fact sheets for dentists and healthcare practitioners in boil water notices areas available at www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/infectioncontrol/factsheets/boilwater.htm and emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/watersystemrepair.asp.

     

     

    Why do these conditions call for boiling water?

    Water pressure keeps pollutants from entering the underground pipes that bring drinking water to your house or business. When the pressure is lost, contaminants can seep into the pipes. This might allow pathogens (disease-causing germs) into the water that can cause illness if one drinks it or prepares food or beverages with it. The risk is higher for infants, the elderly and persons with immune deficiency disorders. So, as a precaution, it is important to disinfect tap water to kill any bacteria or viruses that may have entered the water, or use an alternative source of water (bottled water).

    The Tampa Water Department issues Precautionary Boil Water Notices even if the possibility of contamination is remote because we do not want to take any chances with your family's health. We recommend that our customers subscribe to the City's Alert Tampa emergency notification system to receive wide-spread boil water notifications and other important information.

     

    What does boiling water accomplish?

    Boiling is considered the safest and most effective method of water disinfection. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have indicated that a rolling boil for a period of one minute is sufficient to render drinking water microbiologically safe, free of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The flat taste of boiled water can be improved by aeration: pouring it back and forth from one container to another. In lieu of boiling, you may purchase bottled water or get water from another suitable source.


    The CDC has additional information on treating and storing drinking water during water-related emergencies available online at www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/safe_water/personal.html.

     

    How does the Tampa Water Department inform customers about boil water notices?

    We typically hand deliver Precautionary Boil Water Notices door-to-door to the affected area. We also notify the local health department and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) with every occurrence. The same method is used to notify customers that the notice has ended. Specific questions regarding a notice can be directed to the contact number on the notice or the Tampa Water Department Emergency Repair and Service Section at (813) 274-7400.

     

    Should a large-scale or system-wide Precautionary Boil Water Notice be necessary, in addition to enlisting the assistance of the local media to alert the community, we use the City's Alert Tampa emergency notification system and recommend our customers subscribe to receive wide-spread boil water notifications and other important information.

     

     

    What does the Tampa Water Department do during a boil water notice?

    After the water system is repaired, and the pressure is restored in the pipes to your home or business, the Precautionary Boil Water Notice will remain in effect for one to several days while bacteria tests are conducted to assure the safety of the water. The notice will be lifted (rescinded) only after tests prove the water is safe to drink.

     

     

    What should I do if I already drank the water before knowing about the Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

    Should you accidentally consume water during a precautionary boil water notice without boiling it first, chances are you will be okay as long as you are in good health. Most people who happen to drink this water will not get sick. If you do get sick, the symptoms are similar to food poisoning: nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and possibly a mild fever. However, that does not mean it is safe for you to continue to use the water without boiling it first. Symptoms caused by bacteria in water related illnesses include but are not limited to diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and headaches. Should any of these symptoms occur you should seek medical advice immediately.

     


    If there is a filter on my kitchen faucet and/or one in my refrigerator, is that water safe to drink?

    The water filters that are attached to the kitchen faucet or placed in the refrigerator are there in order to improve the aesthetic aspects of water quality such as, order and taste, not to remove harmful pathogens such as bacteria. You should boil your water or use bottled water whenever a Precautionary Boil Water Notice is issued.

     


    Is it safe to shower during a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

    It is safe to shower as long as you take care not to swallow the water or get it into your eyes, nose, or mouth. Children and disabled individuals should have their bath supervised to ensure water is not ingested. The time spent bathing should be minimized. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immuno-suppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the notice is lifted. Individuals may wish to contact a health care provider for specific recommendations.

     


    Is it safe for my pets to drink the water during a Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

    You should take the same precautions with your pet as you would for yourself. Pets should be given boiled or bottled water. In cases of aquatic pets, such as fish, you should not try to change their water while a precautionary boil water notice is in effect.

     

     

    What should the customer do after the boil water notice is lifted?

    After the boil water notice is lifted, flush the water out of your distribution lines. Start with an outdoor faucet furthest from your meter and flush all outdoor faucets. Run hot water through each indoor faucet until you notice a change in water temperature. Remove the aerator before flushing kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. Run enough hot water to flush the hot water heater. If you have an automatic ice maker, empty the ice tray several times to ensure that the line to the ice maker is flushed. More information is available in online fact sheets produced by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

     

     

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    (page last reviewed: 11/22/13)