The massive C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which has been nearly empty for more than a year while construction crews repaired the leaking liner, is ready to be filled, according to Tampa Bay Water, which operates the facility.
The earthen tank can hold 15.5 billion gallons of water; when it’s full, the reservoir holds enough water to fill 33 Raymond James Stadiums.
Tampa Bay Water, which operates the reservoir, a desalination plant and an array of ground pumping stations throughout the region to slake the thirst of Tampa Bay area residents, is planning an announcement Thursday that the refilling of the reservoir is about to begin.
A source of drinking water since 2005, the reservoir in Hillsborough County developed abnormal cracking in the erosion control layer soon after its first drawdown in 2006. Tampa Bay Water decided to drain the facility so the earthen berms could be repaired.
The goal was to have the project completed by December. The work began last year with the removal of the existing erosion control layer, the addition of drains and a coating of the reservoir’s interior with thicker stronger soil cement.
The $129 million renovation project involved more than 140 pieces of heavy equipment, more than 105,000 tons of cement and five miles of white tarp that serves as the liner. Tampa Bay Water is footing the bill; the agency unsuccessfully sued the engineering company over the leaks.
To fill the reservoir, water will be pumped from the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Hillsborough and Alafia rivers. The project was coordinated with the summer rainy season so the nearly daily afternoon thunderstorms also will help fill the bowl.
The plan is to fill the reservoir halfway by the fall, and to the brim by December.
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.
To meet the demand of the region while the reservoir was off line, the agency tapped water from a variety of sources, including the desalination plant and ground water pumping facilities.