Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hold that water hose: Reservoir full, but imperfect

TAMPA — Despite cracks and temporary patches, the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir is full.

Thanks to El Niño rains, a sluggish economy and conservation efforts, the region stands ready for the 2011 dry season with several sources of water, including 15.5 billion gallons from the reservoir.

"We're completely opposite from where we were a year ago," said Gerald Seeber, general manager of Tampa Bay Water, the region's utility.

With three sources of water — groundwater, surface water and the utility's desalination plant — the area is in a position not many other places share.

"The water supply system that we set out to build 12 years ago has been completed," he said. "It is providing a variety of water supply sources for the region that puts us in a strong position."

A year ago, brown crunchy lawns were common in most neighborhoods. But as the Tampa Bay area pulls out of a three-year drought, consumers still must follow strict conservation rules. Currently, residents are only allowed to water one day a week.

That rule will remain in effect through June 30, when the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, again takes up the issue. In February, the water-governing board voted to keep the restrictions in place because of what happened after the last major El Niño weather system, said Swiftmud spokeswoman Robyn Felix.

"During the last major El Niño in 1997 and 1998, we had a wet winter and rain all the way through March," Felix said. "But as soon as March was over, it stopped raining for about five months."

An arid summer led to wildfires and other problems, she said.

Along with extended restrictions this year, consumers can expect to pay more for water — even though less is being used.

In the last year, usage has dropped by 37 million gallons a day to 206 million. Meanwhile, rates have gone up by 15 cents to $2.40 per 1,000 gallons of water — the quantity the utility uses to sell water to the three counties and cities it serves.

Beginning in October, an average household that uses 8,000 gallons of water could pay another $1.20 a month, according to budget figures released by Tampa Bay Water.

Sustainable drinking water supplies are priceless, said Michelle Biddle Rapp, spokeswoman for Tampa Bay Water. Even with alternative supplies such as the reservoir, drinking water is limited.

And to expand those water sources so the public is not dependent on just one does not come cheap, said Seeber, the utility's general manager. The cost of building alternative water sources — the reservoir, the desalination plant and the like — means the price for producing water remains at a high level despite demand.

It could be a different story when Tampa Bay Water makes a final decision on how and when to fix the reservoir's cracks. For a fix that costs more than $100 million, that could mean at least another 10 cents to the cost of every 1,000 gallons of water sold.

At $140 million, the facility is the largest in the state. When it opened in 2005, water officials claimed it would be the standard bearer for all reservoirs.

A year later, an employee discovered cracks in a layer designed to prevent eroding. Some of the fissures measured 400 feet long and more than a foot deep.

Since then, temporary repairs have been made. That's why the reservoir is full.

But to move ahead with the estimated $125 million in repairs needed to permanently fix the reservoir, workers will have to drain all the water.

Times staff writer Craig Pittman contributed to this report. Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com, or (813) 661-2454.

Hold that water hose: Reservoir full, but imperfect 04/18/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 18, 2010 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Back in bargaining, Hillsborough school district and its teachers are $50 million apart

    Blogs

    It started off nice and friendly. Gretchen Saunders, chief business officer for the Hillsborough County Public Schools, passed candy around the room. Negotiators for the district and the teachers' union commended one another for their good work during Hurricane Irma. The union thanked the district for paying everybody a …

    This a breakdown of what the school district says the teachers' union requests would cost if granted. The union rejects many of these numbers.
  2. Study: Dispersant used to clean 2010 BP oil spill harmed humans

    Water

    A first-of-its-kind scientific study has determined that the dispersant BP sprayed at the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 harmed human health.

    This image from a 2010 video provided by BP shows dispersant, white plume at center, being applied to an oil leak at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. A first-of-its-kind scientific study has determined that the dispersant BP used to clean-up the oil spill harmed human health. (AP Photo/BP PLC)
  3. Across Tampa Bay, local commercial banks and credit unions appear healthy

    Banking

    In another sign of economic vitality, Florida's home-grown banking industry demonstrated strong bench strength in the latest quarterly analysis by Bauer Financial. The vast majority of commercial banks with headquarters in Florida received five "stars" from Bauer, which is the highest ranking of health on its 0-to-5 …

    Several years ago, First Home Bank in Seminole faced regulators breathing down its neck for inaedquate controls and financial weakness. Under CEO 
Anthony N. Leo, the bank has rebounded. It received a top-rated "5" star rating from Bauer Financial in the latest quarter. Most area banks are doing better these days. [SCOTT KEELER      |     TIMES]
  4. Two linemen lose their wedding rings in Tampa Bay. So far one has been found and returned.

    Human Interest

    Two linemen who spent days restoring power in the Tampa Bay area had the same unfortunate mishap: They lost their wedding rings.

    Facebook helped Michael White find the wedding ring he lost while helping restore power in Tampa Bay.
  5. Need is now for new mental health center at Bay Pines, veterans say

    Veterans

    ST. PETERSBURG — Veteran Ellsworth "Tony" Williams says the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System's new mental health center will help fill an immediate need.

    The new mental health center at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System stands four stories tall and was built at a cost of $92 million. It will centralize services that before were scattered. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]