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News Section: Local Government

Big Investments in Proposed Manatee County Water Plan

Published Friday, November 9, 2012 12:02 am

BRADENTON -- To ensure the necessary water supply needed to serve Manatee County customers, Manatee's Utility Department submits a 10-year water use plan every five years, as required by South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). The plan evaluates the sources, treatment and delivery facilities, based on the demands of the projected population. Currently the county's supply is safe through the next decade, but aging facilities and outdated technology will need to be replaced to get to 2035.


Manatee's Utility Department Water Division Manager, Mark Simpson delivered a water supply facility work plan to the county planning commission Thursday that reassured them of sufficient supply, and detailed the cost of keeping it safe in the future. 


The county's major source of portable water is Lake Manatee, which supplies almost 35 million gallons a day (MGD) for residents. Another 16 MGD comes from the county well fields. There is an agreement with Mosaic mining to share the almost 2 MGD that gets pumped from the IMC well field in East Manatee County. That brings the total to almost 53 MGD, and that is the amount permitted to the county by SWFWMD. 


Conservation practices have helped to reduce the water demand over the past few years, but Simpson says future use is expected to climb. In 2011, the demand was 37 MGD. By 2020, it is expected to rise to almost 48 MGD, and by 2035 to over 53 MGD, taking the county beyond their permitted amount.


Simpson says we must plan for infrastructure reinvestment cost of $100 million if we are going to guarantee safe water for decades to come. The largest price tag would be a water treatment plant filtration upgrade, projected to be $43 million, followed by a biological treatment unit costing an estimated $16 million. 


There are other planned major investments that make-up the remainder of the proposed $100 million. A Buffalo Creek water treatment plant along with dam repairs would cost over another $40 million. 


Critics claim any additional sources are at the expense of residents who are forced to pay for the more expensive sources of water while the least expensive (easiest to retrieve) is reserved for agriculture and mining. One example is: the reclaimed water system infrastructure. It will cost over another $100 million, and that expense will fall on the residents, not the mega water users.


The Planning Commission recommended amending the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate the projected changes in the Water Supply Facility Work Plan at the meeting (click here for full agenda results).

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