December 16, 2008
TB Water Suing For Cracked Walls
As if the ongoing water shortage was not enough to deal with, members of the Tampa Bay Water Board have another issue on their hands.
During a recent meeting, the board unanimously voted to sue the three companies: HDR Engineering, Barnard Construction and Construction Dynamics Group, which have been involved with the design and construction of the recently built 930-acre C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, located in southeast Hillsborough County.
According to Tampa Bay Water, HDR designed the reservoir, Barnard was the lead construction contractor and Construction Dynamics oversaw building it. But investigations of the now crack-ridden walls of the multimillion-dollar reservoir have determined that the cracks were caused either during the design, construction or oversight of the project.
While Tampa Bay Water officials have not said how much money they will try to recover in the lawsuits, board member and Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda reportedly said that he wants to make sure taxpayers don’t get stuck with the repair bill.
“For me, it is paramount that the public interest be protected,” Miranda said.
Moving forward with litigation as well as filing the lawsuit by December 20, —before the statute of limitations runs out— also means that Tampa Bay Water will cancel contracts with HDR and the other firms.
When full, the reservoir can provide enough water to operate the Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant at full capacity for more than six months.
The reservoir’s banks are coated with 16 inches of soil cement to prevent erosion from waves. It took 183 days to initially fill the reservoir. During construction, more than 150 pieces of heavy equipment were used and more than 150 people employed.
Thirteen million cubic yards of earth were moved in total for this project. That is equivalent to one dump truck every minute for two years straight.
While the first cracks were visible in the soil-cement covering of the 15-billion gallon capacity reservoir’s inner walls as of late 2006, they’ve become more widespread, causing officials to drain the water levels so cracks below the waterline could be investigated.
According to Tampa Bay Water, safety is paramount in the reservoir design, construction and operations. The facility is an earthen structure, with an embankment as wide as a football field at its base and that averages 50 feet in height. Armored with 16 inches of soil cement, including a stair-step design that rings the top, the reservoir is built to withstand hurricane force wind and rain.
Instrumentation built into the reservoir and various measurements taken provide feedback on soil moisture, stability and other safety factors.
For more information about the reservoir, please visit www.Tampabaywater.org.