LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority officials last week learned they may be paying more than their share for water irrigation because of potential discrepancies in how Braden River Utilities calculates water usage.
During the board’s agenda review meeting Feb. 16, consultant Azad Shah of CSA Group said there may be potential or real discrepancies under the current billing structure, including potential double accounting for water at one lake, non-working meters at least two non-IDA facilities and the location of meters at golf course pump stations within the district. There also are several locations at which water may be leaving or entering the IDA’s boundaries without being accounted for.
Currently, BRU bills the IDA based on the amount of water produced minus water billed to non-IDA entities.
At their Feb. 18 public hearing, IDA officials agreed to move forward with phase three of an irrigation study, which will allow staff to create a scope and budget of work, as well as to determine options and timing for receiving reclaimed water from the county for irrigation.
“Nothing was really surprising,” Ryan Heise, director of Town Hall Operations, said of Shah’s findings. “It revealed the fact we have some issues we have to work together on and quickly.”
Shah and IDA Chairman Tom Green were quick to point out Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the entity that owns BRU, should not be blamed, and the company is working with the IDA to make sure issues are resolved. SMR President Rex Jensen has been given a copy of Shah’s report and asked for comments.
“Rex Jensen has told us very forcibly he wants this problem to go away,” IDA Chairman Tom Green said.
Concerns over water pressure in Lakewood Ranch have escalated over the years. Several studies already have been conducted, resulting in changes to residents’ water schedules. But continued frustrations over the problem prompted each Lakewood Ranch Community Development District to chip in for an independent study.
As reported last week, water provided to the IDA comes from 11 sources scattered throughout the district’s territory, including nine wells and two lakes. Nearly 50% of the water is produced at three sources, and there appears to be constrictions in the system in certain areas, Shah said.
Based on water usage for a year ending September 2009, the IDA used an average of 115 million gallons of water each month, Shah said. Average residential usage was 84 million gallons and a weekly residential usage average of 19 million gallons. Combining that information with other data, Shah computed the irrigation duration per home application was four hours, as opposed to the two- to three-hour schedule set by the BRU for most neighborhoods.
“That’s why it’s important to get a better handle of how much water (the BRU is) supplying to you,” Shah said.
Shah also suggested the IDA work to create a written standard for minimum acceptable pressures, a minimum acceptable water quality, better metering and delivery points and to try to negotiate for a bulk water rate with BRU. Phase III of the irrigation study will be brought before the board at its March agenda review meeting.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
IN OTHER BUSINESS
• Town Hall Directors of Operations Ryan Heise reported plant damage from the recent freeze was less than expected in all districts. Damage totals are estimated between $15,000 and $20,000 and can be taken care of in the existing budget.
CDD 4: Supervisors closed their meeting in a record of six minutes after approving a change order that reduced the contract amount for repairs to a lake bank in their district by more than $12,000. The contract now comes in at less than $37,600.
CDD 1: Supervisors raised concerns about the misalignment of striping at the intersection of State Road 70 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Engineer Mike Kennedy said Florida Department of Transportation officials are looking into the issue.
• Operations Director Ryan Heise said the remainder of mailbox replacement installations will begin in March.
• Supervisor Alan Roth, who sits on the safety committee, said the CDD’s new security contractor, Allegiance Security Group, will start attending safety committee meetings regularly.
CDD 2: Supervisor Don O’Leary said Sheriff Brad Steube will attend the CDD’s safety committee meeting at 3 p.m., March 18.
CDD 5: The district used a portion of its contingency money for a lake bank repair project but saved more than $3,600. The project came in at $35,659.