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Reservoir Crack Repair and Lawsuit Advance in Tampa Bay

Friday, October 22, 2010

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Tampa Bay reservoir

A permanent repair for Tampa Bay’s cracked regional reservoir— and a multimillion-dollar legal settlement over the problem—are both moving forward, after recent decisions by the town’s water board.

The Tampa Bay Water Board has approved four design-build firms to move to the next phase in the process to secure a permanent fix for C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The approved firms are:

• Granite Construction Company

• Kiewit Infrastructure South

• MWH Constructors

• Skanska USA Civil Southeast

All four firms have local offices in the Tampa Bay community. The firms were selected from among five design-build entities that submitted Statements of Qualifications for designing, building, monitoring and maintaining the reservoir renovation.

The short-list of firms was approved Oct. 18 after qualifications submittals were screened and evaluated by a selection committee using pre-established criteria.

Abnormal Cracking

The reservoir, located on 5,200 acres in southeastern Hillsborough County, was constructed with an earthen embankment that is 300 feet wide at its base.

The reservoir came on line in 2005, but in December 2006, larger-than-expected cracks began to form in the soil cement interior face of the facility’s erosion control structure.

Engineers determined that the cracking was being caused by high water pressures underneath the erosion control liner on the interior of the reservoir, the water board announced in May 2009.

The reservoir’s erosion control layer consists of soil-cement that lines the reservoir’s interior and a soil wedge that lies between the soil-cement layer and a deeper geomembrane that protects the rest of the embankment.

The system engineer reported that water was becoming trapped in the soil wedge, causing the pressure that led to soil-cement cracking, soil wedge movement and soil erosion. A Fact Sheet and Diagram illustrate the problem.

‘Looking for the Best Solution’

Inspections have found that the reservoir is safe, and short-term patching has allowed it to remain in limited use. However, a long-term fix is required to stop the cracking and ensure reliable use of the reservoir in the future, officials have said.

“Tampa Bay Water’s system was built on a working 15.5 billion gallon reservoir for storage; and without it, our surface water system becomes vulnerable to surface water shortages,” said Gerald Seeber, general manager of Tampa Bay Water. “The facility is an essential component to the region’s diverse water supply and requires a long-term fix.”

The companies short-listed last week will be invited to respond to Tampa Bay Water’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for the reservoir renovation, which will be issued in November. The RFP will request a base proposal to renovate the facility as well as an alternate proposal for additional storage capacity within the existing reservoir footprint. Proposals will be due in March 2011.

The RFP will not be a low-bid procurement, but rather, a “best value” approach to securing the best long-term fix at the right prices. Proposals will be evaluated and scored on technical criteria as well as long-term cost. The technical portion will comprise 60% of the evaluation; cost, 40%.

“We are looking for the best solution for the best value,” said Seeber. “Quality and results, rather than schedule, will govern the fix.”

$6M Settlement Moves Forward

Also last week, the board approved key terms for a $6 million settlement agreement with CDG, the firm that provided construction management and administration for the reservoir.

When finalized, the settlement agreement will generate the first proceeds from the litigation filed against the reservoir’s designer, contractor and construction manager.

Tampa Bay Water filed suit in federal court in December 2008 against HDR Engineering Inc., the reservoir's design engineer; Barnard Construction, the contractor; and CDG. The legal case against HDR Engineering and Barnard Construction continues, with a trial scheduled for July 2011.

The settlement proposed with CDG “is a good outcome for the Tampa Bay region's water rate payers and fairly reflects CDG's responsibilities as construction manager performing administrative duties for the reservoir," said Seeber. "We appreciate the willingness of CDG to mediate in good faith. This outcome shows the process can work for both sides."

The board authorized Tampa Bay Water’s general manager and general counsel to work out the remaining details and finalize the settlement with CDG.

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.

   

Tagged categories: Erosion; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits

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