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City, TECO plan $1.5 million in electrical upgrades to Tampa water plant

Published May 17, 2013

TAMPA — Improving the reliability of electrical service to the city's David L. Tippin Water Treatment Facility could cost the city and Tampa Electric Co. a total of $1.5 million, officials said Thursday.

The water treatment plant lost power Feb. 22 after a squirrel gnawed into a power line and set off a cascading series of problems. The outage led to an unprecedented 37-hour advisory for residents citywide to boil their water.

In its wake, the city and TECO each hired their own electrical experts to study what happened and make recommendations for improvements.

As a result, TECO plans $1 million in upgrades, including burying its power lines from 30th Street to the plant, better protecting its equipment from animals and weather, and upgrading testing procedures on equipment that serves the plant as well as circuits, breakers and relays.

The city plans to spend $500,000 on seven improvements that include:

• Changing procedures to ensure a more balanced approach to supplying backup power in case a TECO feeder line goes out.

• Conducting tests that go well beyond normal preventative maintenance on switches and cables.

• Making sure its equipment is fully compatible with TECO's.

• Preventing particles from chemicals stored at the plant from building up on a key switch that failed and increasing maintenance on that switch.

• Reviewing training for plant operators and electricians.

"We feel these seven recommendations will go a long way to ensuring that this event doesn't happen again," Tampa Water Department director Brad Baird told the City Council.

Richard Danielson can be reached at, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.


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