TAMPA, Fla. -- Officials with the City of Tampa say they responded to more than 1,200 water main breaks in 2018 and nearly 1,000 wastewater cave-ins since July 2017.
We're told the City of Tampa spends about $20 million a year fixing its aging infrastructure. Public Works rolled out a plan to residents Monday night to make a fix, spending $3.2 billion over the next 20 years.
“It’s imperative that we do this and we do this and we do it quickly," said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “It's like having to replace your roof on your house or your air conditioning system, it’s not something people wanted to spend money on but it’s something that has to be done.”
The city plans to increase water rates for customers incrementally in the coming years. ABC Action News has learned, many residents will see an average $4 monthly hike starting next year.
"We don’t have a choice," said Public Works Director Brad Baird. "We have to fix our infrastructure or our reactive costs are going to keep going up and up.”
For many people living along North Rome Avenue, the site of a massive water main break in June 2018 is a remember of why they say an infrastructure overhaul is needed.
“The city needs to be correcting and fixing everything that’s old so that it doesn’t happen again," said Nataly Rovira.
Last year's water main break caused widespread flooding, forcing many families out of their homes.
The rush of water also threatened Rovira's family-operated lumber business, located at 5810 North Rome Avenue.
“It would have been a big disaster for us because a lot of our lumber that sells on a daily basis is out here, so really would have hurt us financially," Rovira said.