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Despite major growth, water department cuts permit review time by 75%

Permits from Tampa's water department are coming much faster in the past two years as staff is added to address growing demand.

Tampa's water department has cut its permit review time by 75% after a peak slowdown during the pandemic.
Tampa's water department has cut its permit review time by 75% after a peak slowdown during the pandemic.
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Tampa’s water department says it has cut the length of time for the permit review process by 75% in the past couple years.

According to a statement issued by the city, the cut has come in response to skyrocketing demand from developers, builders and residents. The department says the number of permit applications it received from commercial businesses jumped more than 25% between October 2015 and October 2022, eventually doubling the time for the review process.

The department says the worst time was during the pandemic in fiscal year 2020, when it took on average 112 days for a review to get done.

“At last check, the average review time is now down to 20 days,” a department spokesperson says in an email. “Our goal is to have it down to 18 days by the end of this fiscal year.”

This is happening as the department deals with high demand as commercial and residential project developers request new water connections or for changes to existing ones. These include major projects like Midtown Tampa and Water Street Tampa. In fiscal year 2022, more than 1,700 residential and 650 commercial permit applications were submitted.

The department says it was able to cut the permit review time so drastically in part because it has doubled the number full-time employees on its development services team in the past four years from four. It now has 13 positions dedicated to reviewing new applications, including supervisors. Of those, eight are currently filled.

In addition to adding personnel to cut review time, the city is also working to replace 20 miles of aging pipeline each year. More help to streamline the process will come when the department moves into The City Center at Hanna Avenue, a 161,000-square-foot city building that will house city departments.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.


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