Tampa Bay Water approves $162 million to fix regional reservoir listen08/15/11 Josh Holton
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After years of planning and negotiation, Tampa Bay Water has finally approved a $162 million contract to fix the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. Tampa Bay Water general manager Gerald Seeber said the plan will not only increase water storage capacity, but also help prepare for future drought. Now that the contract was approved, it will go to design and permitting over the next year.
When the cracks first appeared in 2006, only a year after construction, the regional utility filed suit against three companies behind the initial reservoir design. Tampa Bay Water has already reached settlements with CDG and Barnard Construction, but is still in litigation against HDR Construction. If successful, the utility hopes to offset repair costs with rewards from that lawsuit. Tampa Bay Water will also ask the Southwest Florida Water Management District to help finance the remaining costs. John Kennedy is the project manager for the reservoir renovation, and says that better drainage is needed.
While this summer’s rainfall has been a boon to the water supply, Tampa Bay Water chose prepare for future shortages by adding three billion gallons of water storage by raising a ten foot wall around the perimeter. Kennedy said the new contract with Kiewit Infrastructure South will include the new additions in the overall cost.
To prevent future cracks, Kennedy said there will be a stronger cement mixture used on the interior walls this time around.
With the high cost of overall construction, Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman was worried that rate payers may feel the impact.
One challenge for Tampa Bay’s water supply will come when the reservoir will be drained to allow for repairs. During that time the region will have to rely more on water from the desalination plant, which is more expensive. Anticipating this change, there was a three cent per 1,000 gallons of water rate increase last June. Tampa Bay Water’s utility finance director Koni Kassini said that, besides that hike, there will be no initial rate impact.
Those rate increases are estimated to add up to about a $1.20 per household per month. The 160 million dollar repairs are more than the initial 140 million dollar construction cost. So many folks wonder how the utility will keep the contractor from doing another shoddy job. John Kennedy said the contractor has included some financial safeguards to make sure they see the successful completion of the project, even after construction is finished.
Tampa Bay Water will meet again in October to look at approving the primary environmental permit applications for the project. Kiewit is scheduled to complete the project by the fall of 2014, if they are approved to begin construction late next year.