The 15.5-billion gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir makes the region’s water supply more drought resistant, reliable and flexible. Surface water from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Hillsborough and Alafia rivers is stored in the reservoir during wet times. During dry times, when river is unavailable, water stored in the reservoir is withdrawn, treated and blended with other supplies to serve the region.
The reservoir began operating in 2005, but had to be taken off line in 2012 for renovation due to abnormal cracks in the facility’s erosion-control layer. The renovated facility resumed operations in August 2014.
Safety is a top priority for Tampa Bay Water. From the original siting, permitting, construction and operations of the reservoir through every step of the renovation, safety remains central to the daily operations of this important facility.
Prior to the design, permitting and construction of the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, the site's geology was thoroughly investigated. In fact, this evaluation was the most extensive ever conducted for a reservoir in the state of Florida. The site was found to be suitable through an extensive permitting process that included the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
Monitoring in and around the reservoir provides important data that assures the safe operation of the facility. Tampa Bay Water has monitored groundwater levels near the reservoir since 2002. Even during the extreme freeze pumping of 2009 and 2010, the water levels in the reservoir were not affected by the water levels outside the reservoir.
Monitoring equipment installed in the reservoir embankment and in the facility’s drainage layer provides precise information to monitor reservoir performance and safety. Water pressure or water levels in the embankment are measured at different points to provide operators data that support daily, weekly, monthly and annual safety inspections.
The reservoir is designed to handle Florida’s tropical climate. The facility has enough freeboard to handle 40 inches of rain in 24 hours as well as hurricane-force wind and rain. The stair-stepped, soil-cement liner, the continuous drains, and geomembrane ensure embankment stability.
The reservoir measures approximately 2 miles long by 1 mile wide with depths varying from 40 to 80 feet. Surface water collected here could stay in storage for months, so the water must be aerated and circulated to prevent algae blooms and protect taste and odor. Water quality in the reservoir is protected by seven 40-foot tall aeration towers as well as air diffusers that run along the bottom of the facility. Compressed air is directed through the towers and diffusers to increase the oxygen levels and prevent algae growth.