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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009 10 years ago

Backflow fines to begin

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

The fine clock starts ticking Aug. 14 for Key water users who have not installed backflow-prevention devices.

According to Public Works Director Juan Florensa, approximately 60 water users have not yet complied with the town’s backflow-prevention ordinance. Florensa’s department mailed letters dated July 15 to non-compliant users, warning them that they must install the devices within 30 days unless they ask for an extension due to extenuating circumstances.

On Aug. 14, town staff will inspect homes to check that the devices have been installed. Non-compliant water users will face a fine of $50 per day for a maximum of 14 days before the town shuts off their water.

According to Florensa, the town has granted more than 40 extensions. The remaining 60 non-compliant customers have not contacted the town about the deadline. Some of the letters mailed to property owners have been returned. In these cases, many of the properties are in foreclosure.

“We’re down to the people who are having financial issues or just don’t want (the devices),” Florensa said.

The Longboat Key Town Commission set a June 30 deadline in December, nearly two years after it approved the backflow-prevention ordinance that is intended to implement a routine control system Key-wide to detect and manage water cross-connections and prevent the backflow of contaminants into the town’s water system. The ordinance was created to comply with federal-and-state, health-department standards.

The deadline was extended on two previous occasions, and commissioners considered extending the deadline a third time in June after they learned that 331 town water users had not installed a backflow-prevention device.

Florensa said that some of those water users had installed backflow-prevention devices, however, the plumbers they hired did not turn in a completion of work certification form to the Planning, Zoning and Building Department. Through inspections, Public Works staff learned that at least 15 of those 331 water users who had been classified as non-compliant had actually installed the devices.

The number of non-compliant water users decreases daily, Florensa said. He recommends that users facing extenuating circumstances write to Public Works to ask for an extension.

“Our aim is not necessarily to fine people or have their water turned off,” Florensa said. “Our aim is to have them comply in the most gentle way.”


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