Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Water draining C.W. Bill Young Reservoir for repairs

CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay Water has begun draining its 15.5 billion-gallon reservoir to get ready for repair work on its persistent cracking problem, a utility official said Monday.

"We're on a course now to take it all the way down to the bottom," Alison Adams, a senior manager with the regional utility, told the agency's governing board.

Tampa Bay Water is sending 45 million gallons of water a day out of the reservoir to its customers, which means it will be completely dry by the end of December, she said.

Repair work on the C.W. Bill Young Reservoir — named for the congressman who steered federal funds to its construction — is scheduled to begin in January and last 22 months.

To make up for idling the reservoir, Tampa Bay Water has begun running its idled desalination plant. Adams said the plant, which has a maximum capacity of about 25 million gallons per day, has been producing 12 million a day since August, so far with no signs of trouble.

The utility also takes water from the Hillsborough and Alafia rivers and the Tampa Bypass Canal, as well as pumping millions of gallons of water from underground.

But damage to lakes and wetlands in the 1990s persuaded state regulators to limit how much water the Tampa Bay region can pull up from the aquifer. Exceeding the 90 million-gallon-per-day limit brings the risk of fines.

Tampa Bay Water is supplying about 155 to 160 million gallons to utilities in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, Adams said, while keeping its consumption of groundwater below 90 million.

The utility opened the reservoir — the largest in the state — in June 2005 to store water skimmed from the two rivers and the canal for use in times of drought. The reservoir, which cost $146 million, covers about 1,100 acres near Fort Lonesome in Hillsborough County.

The reservoir's walls consist of an earthen embankment as wide as a football field at its base, averaging about 50 feet high. An impermeable membrane buried in the embankment prevents leaks.

The embankment's top layer, a mixture of soil and concrete to prevent erosion, began cracking in December 2006. Some cracks were up to 400 feet long and up to 15 ½ inches deep. Workers patched the cracks, but the patches didn't last.

Tampa Bay Water sued the reservoir's designer, but lost. That case is now on appeal.

Meanwhile the utility's board voted to expand the reservoir by 3 billion gallons during the repair job. But this spring the state Department of Environmental Protection warned that the utility would not be allowed to do that because of a concern about sinkholes in that area. As a result, the utility's plans have been scaled back to a repair job. That cut the cost from $163 million to $129.4 million. The agency plans to issue up to $85 million in bonds to pay for the repairs and other capital projects.

Craig Pittman can be reached at

Tampa Bay Water draining C.W. Bill Young Reservoir for repairs 10/15/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  4. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  5. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests


    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Workers remove cladding from Whitebeam Court in Pendleton, Manchester, on Monday. A type of cladding restricted in other countries has been blamed for the fatal Grenfell Tower blaze.