By Tamas Mondovics
Tampa Bay Water (TBW) is once again storing water in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir and as long as the weather pattern continues on its current course, the County’s much talked about water source will finally be fully filled by the end of the year.
TBW officials were pleased to invite the media last month to show off the completion of the $129 million renovation and construction project, which began in February 2013 after TBW hired Kiewit Infrastructure South to replace the 15.5 billion gallon reservoir’s cracked erosion-control layer by building a long-term fix as well as to increase the facility’s storage by three billion gallons.
The renovation required more than 140 pieces of heavy equipment and re-used more than 700,000 cubic yards of soil and included more than 500,000 cubic yards of soil cement; more than 105,000 tons of cement.
“Construction was smooth and we feel good about the results,” said TBW General Manager Matt Jordan. “The reservoir is a vital part of our infrastructure as it will again fully deliver water to more than 2.3 million people in the Tampa Bay area through Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.”
When full, the facility can provide up to 25 percent of the region’s drinking water needs for more than six months, was appropriately designed to store water from the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers and is designed for use during dry times, making the region’s water supply more drought resistant, reliable and flexible.
The reservoir, located between S.R. 39 and Boyette Rd. in Lithia, is 33 times the volume of Raymond James Stadium, and first began operations in 2005 with a price tag of $146 million.
However, in 2006 cracks began to form in the facility’s soil-cement erosion control lining, which, over time, appeared in several areas, eventually forming on 70 percent of the interior face of the reservoir, prompting the necessary full-scale renovation project with a cost almost as much as it did to build it.
In 2008, Tampa Bay Water filed a federal lawsuit against HDR Engineering and Barnard Construction seeking more than $100 million to repair the reservoir.
TBW continued to pursue the case and rejected a $30-million mediator-initiated settlement offer by HDR saying that “the amount did not represent a good deal for ratepayers.”
The case, however, resulted in a decision by a federal jury in favor of the design firm, stating that HDR did not breach standards.
The decision by TBW and Hillsborough County was then made to end litigation against HDR Engineering over the reservoir’s failed soil-cement liner and to pay HDR Engineering’s legal fees totaling about $21 million, which was confirmed by an 8-0 vote of Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors.
The fees include costs for the trial, post-trial proceedings, and the appeal, and will be paid through funds on hand and according to Tampa Bay Water officials will not directly affect water rates.
For more information about the project, visit www.tampabaywater.org/reservoir.