Tampa Bay Water rejects $30-million reservoir settlement; hopes for more
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10/17/11 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa Bay Water Board members return from a closed session where they decided to reject a settlement offer from HDR, the company responsible for cracks in a reservoir.


photo by Janelle Irwin

This morning Tampa Bay Water Board members rejected a $30-million settlement from HDR Engineering. But permanently repairing cracks in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir has an estimated cost of $121 million. Board members decided that offer was too low because ratepayers would likely have to absorb the remainder of construction costs in their monthly bills. At a meeting last month, board members voted 4 to 3 to take the offer. Shortly after that vote they learned the agency requires five affirmative votes for a motion to pass. The vote was unanimous today.

"I move to reject the proposed settlement."

"I second."

"We have a motion on the floor to reject the proposed settlement; do we have any further discussion? Hearing none, all in favor of the motion……any opposition…..the motion carries unanimously."

The lawsuit against HDR will continue. Tampa Bay Water is seeking full damages, up to $97 million, to offset the cost of repairs. In August, the board approved a contract with Kiewit Infrastructure South to renovate the reservoir and expand it to hold 3-billion extra gallons. Last month board attorneys canceled the lawsuit when they thought the settlement was a done deal. But it can be re-started within a 60-day window.

After this story was aired, HDR Engineering emailed us a written statement.

"HDR Engineering is disappointed by Tampa Bay Water Board’s decision to back out of the independent mediator’s settlement proposal. We have always been ready to accept responsibility for our portion of the necessary repairs. We believe the actual repair costs and our responsibility have been grossly exaggerated. HDR is confident that the court will evaluate sound scientific fact and determine that HDR is not the primary responsible party for the cost, cause and cracking of the reservoir."

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