By Brad Stager
If you are out and about in the Lithia and FishHawk areas at 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month and hear the wails of warning sirens coming from the vicinity of the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, there is no reason to be concerned about what might follow.
That’s because Tampa Bay Water, which operates the reservoir, conducts monthly tests of the warning system so that if there is a need to sound the alarm about an actual emergency local, residents will be alerted about the need to immediately evacuate the area.
Evacuation would be necessary if the 1,100-acre reservoir, which can hold 15.5 billion gallons of water, sprang a major leak that would threaten homes and businesses in its vicinity.
The reservoir is located at 17611 Boyette Rd. in Lithia, east of Balm Boyette Rd. and west of S. County Rd. 39, in a part of Hillsborough County that was once mostly agricultural but is now becoming home to a growing number of people moving into newly built housing developments.
While it is important to know that the reservoir—which stores water for use by residents—exists in the neighborhood, there is little need to give it much thought, according to Brandon Moore, public communications manager for Tampa Bay Water.
“Safety is our priority and providing advanced notice of any potential concerns is an important aspect of safety,” he wrote in an email. “It’s important to know that the reservoir facility is safe, as evidenced by more than 15 years of safe operations.” Moore added that the reservoir’s status is continuously monitored with technology and by daily visual inspections conducted by staff.
The next tests will be conducted on March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3 and December 1 at 9 a.m.
The reservoir is named for C.W. Bill Young, the U.S. Congressman who represented Florida’s 10th Congressional District in 1993-2013. It collects water from the Alafia and Hillsborough Rivers and opened in October 2005.
You can also receive reservoir alerts when out of earshot of the sirens by joining Hillsborough County’s HCFL Alert System at hcflgov.net/HCFLAlert. More information about Tampa Bay Water and the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir is available at tampabaywater.org.