Tampa water department hashes half million dollar plan to avoid power failures

05/16/13 Janelle Irwin
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A water boil alert that went out to more than a half million Tampa residents in February was the result of a domino effect of electrical problems that all started with a squirrel chewing through a power line. The power outage meant part of the city’s water supply could have been tainted and left residents and restaurants scrounging for bottled water and ice for 37 hours.

During a Tampa City Council meeting Thursday, Brad Baird, director of the city’s water department laid out a half million dollar plan to make sure the water is better protected.

The department would also improve training, conduct system tests and change operational procedures for power outages to shift only half of the power to a backup source instead of all of it. City Council asked the department to come up with precautionary plans after a water boil alert went out to a half million residents in February.

Meanwhile, city council members approved a lease for a restaurant in downtown’s historic waterworks building. Columbia restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart will pay the city $1 a year for 20 years with the option to buy the building near the expected northern terminus of the Riverwalk for $500,000 within the first five years. The waterworks restaurant won’t be called Columbia.

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