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Tampa Bay reservoir legal fees $21 million

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa Bay Water wants to move on, close the book on the lawsuit against HDR Engineering over just who was responsible for cracking at the Bill Young Regional Reservoir.

The final chapter of this book is going to cost ratepayers another $21 million dollars for HDR's legal fees and expenses.

"While the outcome has fallen well short of our expectations and was not favorable for the agency, we firmly believe that trying to recoup the public's investment through legal action was the right decision," said Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is Tampa Bay Water's Board of Directors chair.

An 8 On Your Side investigation discovered, in 2007, hundreds of cracks, some hundreds of feet long developed in the soil cement lining the interior wall of the 15 billion gallon facility. The repairs were not holding.

Tampa Bay Water sued HDR Engineering for damages, claiming the company provided a poorly designed reservoir.

HDR offered a $30 million dollar settlement.

Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda also sits on the water agency's board.

"There was an offer on the table for about $30 million, but we knew that the cost to re pair the reservoir was over $100 million or right at $100 million and when you're elected officials and you try to do the best thing you can for the public, you assume that you're going to be successful," Miranda said.

In April 2012, a jury sank the lawsuit. It determined HDR was not a fault for the cracking reservoir.

Just last month a federal appeal court in Atlanta rejected Tampa Bay Water's request for a new trial.

"We lost, it was appealed and we lost, and therefore we have to pay the damages," Miranda said.

Miranda and the Tampa Bay Water board, Monday, voted unanimously to pay HDR's legal fees and costs totaling $21 million dollars.

Meanwhile Kiewit Construction continues gutting the reservoir, installing a drainage system and rebuilding its walls.

According to Tampa Bay Water the $21 million for HDR legal fees is in addition to;

$ 10.6 million for Tampa Bay Water's own legal fees

$ 7 million for investigations and temporary repairs to the reservoir

$129 million for renovation design and construction

$ 12 million for engineering

According to Tampa Bay Water, the renovation project remains on time and budget and will be fully functional by December 2014.

 Related Content: Tampa Bay reservoir $129 million renovation ramping up

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