Tampa Bay Water’s governing board Monday decided to move forward with an appeal in its suit challenging what it believes is a faulty reservoir design.
The board made the decision even though the federal judge who presided over the trial TBW lost in April has not ruled on its request for a new trial.
The regional water supply agency is seeking to recoup about $100 million for what it believes is a faulty design of Florida’s largest reservoir, a 15.5-billion-gallon facility that began to crack shortly after opening in 2005.
The reservoir was designed by HDR Engineering Inc. A four-week long trial in April ended with the jury deciding that HDR owed nothing for repairs.
Though the request for a new trial is pending, the “Tampa Bay Water board wants to ensure that its attorneys can move forward with an appeal if the motion is denied,” the agency said in a statement. “The board voted unanimously to authorize the appeal after a careful examination of its legal strategy.”
TBW was planning to repair and expand the reservoir, but on Monday the board decided to drop the expansion because a state agency said it likely would not be permitted. TBW will now move forward with repairs only.
Existing funds will be used to redesign the project without the expansion, and new cost estimates will be prepared for the repairs, some or all of which will be financed with bonds.
Tampa Bay Water provides wholesale water to the public utility systems in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties as well as the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. It has $1.05 billion of outstanding revenue bonds rated AA-plus by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.