EAST COUNTY — Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is fulfilling its vision to bring higher-quality irrigation water to the community.
Braden River Utilities, a private utility company operated by SMR, has begun work to bring reclaimed water from the city of Bradenton to Lakewood Ranch.
Funding and design efforts began in early 2012, but East County residents soon will see the result: construction crews digging trenches along State Road 70, east of the Braden River.
“(SMR President and CEO) Rex (Jensen) has been trying to get reclaimed water here for 25 years. It’s always been in the plan,” said Bob Simons, president of SMR subsidiary LWR Development and BRU manager, said of why the project is important. “It’s a water quality issue.”
Lakewood Ranch’s existing irrigation pipes were built to reclaimed-water standards, Simons said.
SMR and the Southwest Florida Water Management District are sharing equally in the $11 million cost for the reclaimed water interconnection project.
Contractors have begun work required to install 11 miles of transmission pipes roughly from the River Run Waste Water Treatment Plant, near Pirate Stadium and Mixon Fruit Farms, in Bradenton, south to State Road 70 and east to about Lorraine Road, in Lakewood Ranch.
Manatee County will deed a section of existing pipe, which runs between 45th Street E. and just west of Caruso Road, to BRU, as part of the project, Simons said. BRU’s transmission line will tie into the county’s line, and BRU will own and maintain the entire pipeline from the treatment plant to Lakewood Ranch, Simons said.
“BRU has to own and operate that line to safeguard that water coming to us,” he said.
Simons said the project’s five phases largely will be completed simultaneously, so work can be finished within SWFWMD’s 2013 fiscal year.
Phase I, includes the construction of a pump station at the water treatment plant.
Phase II — the most challenging and most costly piece of the work — installs pipes from the water treatment plant to State Road 70, at 45th Street E., where the new pipeline will connect with an existing line owned by Manatee County.
Remaining phases bring the transmission main along S.R. 70 from the Braden River to Pope Road and also include the installation of a pipeline for BRU from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Lorraine Road. BRU awarded contracts for those projects June 7, and construction is expected to start at the end of June or in early July, Simons said.
The main transmission line will bring reclaimed water to SMR’s property, roughly from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard east to Lorraine Road and north to State Road 64. The connecting pipeline will connect the new line with existing infrastructure used for irrigating developed residential areas north of the Braden River, including the Summerfield and Greenbrook communities.
“It’s completing the loop around the existing developed portions of Lakewood Ranch,” Simons said of the line.
Crews primarily will use open-cut techniques, for which crews dig ditches to install lines, in right-of-way areas along S.R. 70. Contractors, however, will use directional boring, a trench-less method for installing underground pipes, at intersections and other locations where roadways would be impacted.
Once the project is completed, Lakewood Ranch will receive from 4 million to 6 million gallons of reclaimed water per day.
“This will do a lot to displace the groundwater or surface water we use,” Simons said. “Our goal is to use as much reclaimed water as possible.”
Per Lakewood Ranch’s development of regional impact requirements, the community may not use potable water for irrigation. SMR currently uses about 50 wells, each reaching from 1,200 to 2,000 feet below the earth’s surface, to irrigate agricultural and other areas throughout its boundaries.
Simons said well water, over time, becomes saltier and poorer in quality — factors that negatively impact landscaping.
A recent connection made with the city of Sarasota provides reclaimed water to Lakewood Ranch’s developed areas south of the Manatee River. The connection became active in November, at which time BRU began receiving an average of 2 million gallons of reclaimed water daily from the city.
Lakewood Ranch Community Development Districts 1, 2, 4 and 5 saw increases in their 2013 fiscal year budgets to accommodate BRU rate increases. Rates went up by 50% in those districts, as of Oct. 1, 2012. Monthly user fees also increased slightly.
The rates, which were raised, in part, to offset costs for infrastructure for BRU’s reclaimed water projects, had not been increased since Oct. 1, 2007 and Oct. 1, 2008, respectively.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
5 — Number of phases in the Braden River Utilities and city of Bradenton Reclaimed Water Interconnection Project.
11 — In miles, length of pipeline being installed.
50 — Approximate number of wells used by Braden River Utilities for irrigating Lakewood Ranch.
6 million — In gallons, amount of water per day the city of Bradenton will be able to provide Lakewood Ranch in reclaimed water.
10 million — In gallons, daily amount of water used for irrigation in Lakewood Ranch