This alligator doesn’t mind the cracks in the cement lining of the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. Repairs to fix the problem should be complete by the end of 2014.
CLEARWATER - Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors voted, 8-0, Oct. 21 to pay HDR Engineering’s legal fees and costs, totaling about $21 million.
The vote signals the end of litigation against HDR Engineering over the failed soil-cement liner in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The fees include costs for the trial, post-trial proceedings and the appeal. The costs will be paid through funds on hand and they will not directly affect water rates, according to a press release.
“While the outcome has fallen well short of our expectations and was not favorable for the agency, we firmly believe that trying to recoup the public’s investment through legal action was the right decision,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, board chair for Tampa Bay Water. “We fought hard for what is right, and now we have to do what is in the best interest of the agency and the community to bring this chapter to a close.”
The United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Sept. 23 agreeing with the judgment of the trial court in the case of the cracked soil-cement at the reservoir.
Tampa Bay Water filed a federal lawsuit in December 2008 against HDR, as well as the contractor Barnard Construction and the construction manager CDG after cracks were discovered in the reservoir’s interior soil-cement lining.
Tampa Bay Water’s board rejected a $30 million settlement offer from HDR after the board’s advisers estimated the agency could get as much as $97 if they won the lawsuit.
A federal jury ruled against Tampa Bay Water April 10, saying that HDR “did not breach its standard of care” when designing the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir.
The reservoir began operation in 2005 and provides water storage for Tampa Bay Water’s regional system during the dry season, at which time water is pumped from the reservoir to the surface water treatment plant and then on to the customer.
Cracks were found in the flat-plate, soil-cement, erosion-control layer lining of the reservoir’s interior during an inspection in December 2006. After studies and data analysis of the problem by consulting engineers, Tampa Bay Water’s system engineer said in a June 2009 report that the reservoir was safe and could be fixed.
Tampa Bay Water spent the next two years looking for the right solution and the right firm to do the work. A $162 million contract was awarded to design-builder Kiewit Infrastructure South in August 2011 to renovate the reservoir and, upon staff’s recommendation, increase its storage capacity by 3 billion gallons.
Of the $162 million, officials said $42 million would be used to increase the storage capacity, and $120 million was allocated to the reservoir’s renovation. About $6 billion was set aside for unforeseen costs.
Work is scheduled to occur in two phases. Tampa Bay Water funded the $15 million needed for the first phase through existing bond proceeds, resulting in no rate impact for customers in the near-term. The reservoir is currently closed as repairs continue. The facility expected to be fully operational by the end of 2014.
“This long-term fix ensures that the region’s reservoir, a key component of our surface water system, is reliable and serving the region for the long-term,” Tampa Bay Water said in the press release.
Tampa Bay Water provides wholesale water to the public utility systems of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, as well as the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. More information about Tampa Bay Water is available at www.tampabaywater.org.