Maintaining environmental quality and estuarine habitat for plant and wildlife in the Hillsborough River is a goal of both the River Board and the City of Tampa. One way the City works to attain this goal is by meeting a minimum amount of fresh water flow to the lower Hillsborough River. The Florida Administrative Code requires that from July through March a minimum of 20 cubic feet per second (cfs) of fresh water downriver must be maintained. From April through June, the requirement is 24 cfs.
Currently, this minimum flow is achieved with diversion of fresh water from Sulphur Springs and by moving water over the dam with an electrically powered water pump. There is a significant electrical cost to running this pump. To address this, the City of Tampa is in the process of permitting the construction of a slide gate in the existing dam. The slide gate will be stainless steel and gravity-fed, requiring no electricity. It is projected to be completed no later than the winter of 2018. This project is co-funded by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.