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Tampa Bay Water Rejects $30M Settlement with HDR Engineering

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Tampa Bay Water's board of directors has rejected a $30 million settlement agreement with HDR Engineering, Inc., the firm that designed and inspected construction on the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The board reconsidered the settlement in an attorney-client briefing after a special meeting in September resulted in a 4-3 vote that did not meet the agency's 5-affirmative vote requirement. The board felt the $30 million settlement offer was too low, is not representative of HDR's liability and does not represent a good deal for rate payers.

Legal advisors estimate Tampa Bay Water could be awarded up to $97 million if successful at trial, which would greatly offset the $121 million cost to renovate the facility. Without a valid settlement agreement, Tampa Bay Water will now re-open its lawsuit against HDR Engineering, Inc.

The settlement was rejected by a unanimous vote.

Tampa Bay Water filed a lawsuit in federal court in December 2008 against HDR due to abnormal cracking discovered in the reservoir's interior soil-cement lining. The cracking, which limited the regional storage facility's use, was caused by a design flaw-high water pressure from water trapped in the soil wedge beneath the soil cement created cracks.

In August, Tampa Bay Water approved a contract with design-builder Kiewit Infrastructure South to renovate the regional reservoir and increase the facility's storage by 3 billion gallons. Kiewit's solution addresses the underlying cause of the soil-cement cracking with a proposed design that prevents water from being trapped behind the soil cement. Kiewit's solution removes and reclaims the flat-plat soil cement and soil wedge; removes the geomembrane; and adds embankment fill, a drainage system, a new geomembrane and stair-step soil cement around the entire interior face.

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.

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