By Tamas Mondovics
Residents living near local reservoirs are hardly unfamiliar with the sound of emergency siren tests conducted monthly by qualified staff at agencies such as Tampa Bay Water (TBW) and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud).
Reservoirs located in south Hillsborough County include TBW’s 18.5 billion gallon, C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir in Lithia as well as Swiftmud’s three billion gallon, 750-acre, Edward Medard Park Reservoir located on Turkey Creek Road and.
Sirens continually prompt many to question the level of danger that the nearby reservoir might pose as well as wonder what to do in the event of a breach. TBW conducts monthly tests that include three to five short blasts lasting between 10-20 seconds each.
In an emergency, however, the sirens sound in a continuous blast which means residents should take steps to evacuate their families immediately to higher ground.
“We conduct a test of our emergency siren system on the first Wednesday of every month to ensure the sirens are working in the unlikely event of an emergency, at the C.W. Bill Young Reservoir,” said TBW spokesman Brandon Moore. “The purpose of the sirens is to notify those closest to the facility of an emergency situation that requires immediate evacuation.”
“Safety at the reservoir is and always has been a priority for us,” Moore said. “We have a comprehensive Emergency Action Plan in coordination with Hillsborough County Emergency Management that is updated regularly.” Sirens are not mandatory for the Medard Reservoir, but according to Swiftmud spokesperson Susanna Martinez Tarok, the District has installed and maintained sirens at the request of the public. “Currently there are three sirens in use to notify residents within the immediate inundation areas; Siren 1 is located at the reservoir, Siren 2 is located at the east end of Bloomingdale Ave. and Siren 3 is located at the south end of River Drive.
Live testing is typically performed once a month on the last Saturday of the month at 12 Noon, while maintenance and complete function testing is performed once every 3 months.
More information visit www.tampabaywater.org/sirentest. For more information about the construction and the sirens in connection with the Medard Park Reservoir, please visit. www.watermatters.org.