Water finally flowing again at Bay area reservoir

By Trevor Pettiford, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 8:11 AM EDT

Crews have started filling the reservoir that serves the Bay area's water needs.

The C.W. Bill Young Reservoir has been offline for repairs for about two years.

The reservoir opened in 2005 but soon became problematic, with cracking reported in 2006. Costly repairs followed, soon followed by accusations and legal maneuvering.

Since then, the 15.5 billion gallon reservoir has been a battleground between lawyers and designers.

By this fall, the reservoir should be half filled. Officials said it should be back at full capacity by mid 2015.

"What the reservoir does is, it holds a lot of water in storage so that we can treat that water when we need it," said  Matt Jordan, a General Manager at Tampa Bay Water. "During the dry season, it helps us get through those times, makes us less dependent on ground water and makes us more drought resistant."

By 2012, the closed reservoir has looked more like a crater.

Cracks in the reservoir were the result of engineering flaws, according to Tampa Bay Water officials. Despite being offered a multi-million dollar settlement, Tampa Bay Water took the engineering company that designed the reservoir to court - but lost a trial and an appeal. Tampa Bay Water ended up paying millions to the engineers in court costs.

Now, however, Tampa Bay Water officials they are looking forward and are pleased the reservoir is operational again.

"It is putting us in a better position," Jordan said. "So when we do experience those dry months that we do know are coming some time in the future, we'll be in a much better position to make sure that we have an additional water supply and (be) less dependent on ground water."

Once the reservoir is full, it can provide a quarter of the region's drinking water needs for up to six months.