As a Realtor, Stephanie Falloon deals with stressful situations almost daily. "I see people losing their homes everyday," said Falloon. Twice-weekly walks along the Upper Tampa Bay Trail help her cope. "I use this as a place to de-stress," she said. She'll soon have to change her route while a utility company builds a new pipeline.
"This will provide a backup water supply for citizens and increase capacity," said Brandon Moore, public affairs coordinator for Tampa Bay Water.
The project, lasting two months, will affect the trail from Gardner Road to Manhattan Drive in Citrus Park.
About 100,000 customers are being supplied with water from the Northwest Regional Wellfield, which runs along Gunn Highway, said Warren Hogg, senior manager of evaluation and permitting for Tampa Bay Water. The new 2-mile pipeline will connect those customers to Tampa Bay Water's regional system.
"We want all the sources interconnected so you can draw from any source at any time," Hogg said. "The more fully interconnected our system, the greater the reliability we have."
In the coming weeks, 8-foot-deep trenches will be dug along the trail to hold the 36-inch water main pipe. The finished pipeline is expected to deliver up to 15 million gallons of water per day.
Connecting all the existing water supplies and alternative sources was a main goal in 1998 when the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority reorganized to form the Tampa Bay Water System, Hogg said.
The $8.26 million Northwest Hillsborough Pipeline project is the last link in that plan. Tampa Bay Water serves more than 2 million people.
Trail users such as Mike Del Rio, who rides a bicycle with his 9-year-old daughter, are already making alternative plans.
"It's a nice safe, very leveled area," said Del Rio, a master chief petty officer in the Navy. While it's closed, he said his family will ride in their Carrollwood neighborhood.
Falloon said she'll have to rethink her walking route, but she isn't complaining too much.
"It will disrupt, however I'm not disputing it because more reliable water will increase the property value," she said. "And that's a positive."
Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3405.