Gerald Seeber, the Tampa Bay Water general manager who urged the utility to pursue an expensive and as-yet unsuccessful lawsuit against HDR Engineering over cracking at its reservoir, has told the group he is seeking employment elsewhere.

Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Water
The $129-million renovation of Tampa Bay Water's 15.5-billion gallon reservoir in Lithia, Fla., kicked off Feb. 8. A few days later, it was announced that current general manager Gerald Seeber would be stepping down.

The pending move was made public at Tampa Bay Water's Feb. 18 board meeting. In late February, though, utility general counsel Barrie S. Buenaventura told ENR that Seeber had not yet given his formal notice. Even so, the Tampa Tribune reported that Seeber already had been listed as a candidate for the position of city manager for the Tampa suburb of Temple Terrace. "I'd like to make the move back to [city government]," Seeber told ENR.

The news came just days after the Feb. 8 kickoff of construction of TBW's $129-million reservoir renovation project, which is being built by Kiewit Infrastructure Group, Omaha. The project is designed to mitigate cracking that occurred at the 15.5-billion-gallon reservoir in Lithia, Fla.

Tampa Bay Water cancelled plans last summer for expanding the reservoir by 3 billion gallons after the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection expressed concerns over sinkhole activity in the area.

For the redo, Kiewit will remove and reclaim the reservoir's existing flat-plate soil cement, soil wedge and geomembrane layer and add embankment fill, a drainage system and stair-step soil cement around the interior face. Construction should wrap by fall 2014, Tampa Bay Water says.

The utility's suit against Omaha-based HDR thus far has proven costly. Last November, in a ruling in which he called the legal battle "no ordinary engineering malpractice case," U.S. Judge James D. Whittemore determined the utility owed HDR more than $20 million in legal fees as a result of last April's jury verdict. The court document cited TBW's own legal expenses at more than $11.6 million.

If the $30-million settlement offer the utility's board ultimately rejected in favor of a trial is added in, the potential financial impact currently stands at more than $61 million. TBW filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Buenaventura said the utility, which produces water for six local county and municipal governments, will conduct a national search for a candidate with utility experience. The utility hopes to have a list of candidates by April, with selection of a replacement by May or June, she adds.


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