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East County Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 5 years ago

Lakewood shifts to reclaimed water

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The water is on.

Braden River Utilities, a developer-owned utility that provides irrigation water to Lakewood Ranch, officially started using reclaimed water from the city of Sarasota Nov. 6, to provide irrigation water to residents of Lakewood Ranch.

The project has been in the works for more than a year, with BRU installing 1,500 feet of 18-inch and 11,300 feet of 12-inch water transmission lines, according to documents provided by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

“We are just embarking on this venture,” said Gerald Boyce, manager of compliance and operations for the City of Sarasota Utility Department. “They tapped our system. We already had a line going out east to Hi Hat Ranch.”

The city of Sarasota has agreed to a 20-year contract to provide an average of 2 million gallons of reclaimed water per day, Boyce said.

“That’s a lot of water, but we average making probably 6.5 million gallons a day,” he said. “There’s quite a bit more. At this point, we can meet all our obligations easily.”

The partnership with the city offsets the use of potable groundwater use within the Braden River watershed.

BRU’s current demand from its commercial-and-residential users in the Southwest Sector of Lakewood Ranch is more than 5 million gallons per day. It uses well water and water from Aqua Utilities to meet its irrigation demands. The contract with the city of Sarasota is expected to offset the use of potable groundwater by 100%, water management district documents state.

Documents also indicate the location of the BRU service area provides an opportunity for implementation of a regional reclaimed water system, with possible interconnects including Aqua Utilities (existing), the city of Sarasota (existing), the city of Bradenton (proposed), Sarasota County (in negotiations) and possibly Manatee County.

Boyce said reclaimed water has gone through an advanced treatment process and is highly disinfected.

“Other than dissolved solids, it meets secondary drinking water standards,” Boyce said. “All the pathogens have been killed.

“It’s strictly domestic wastewater that’s treated to standards,” he said. “Nutrient levels are very low. It’s not for bathing; it’s for irrigation. Every gallon of re-use we use for irrigation is another gallon of potable water that is available to the general public (for consumption).”

Lakewood Ranch Town Hall Director of Operations Ryan Heise said residents should not notice any major changes to their irrigation, as a result of BRU’s switch toward reclaimed water, but the water will be of higher quality than what was previously provided and will be better for the area’s landscapes.

The switch from well water also will help decrease instances of sprinkler heads getting clogged with particulate matter, he said.

“We know the reclaimed water is going to be a more reliable source, as far as pressure and volume, as well,” Heise said.

Braden River Utilities officials could not be reached for comment by press time.

A project to bring in reclaimed water from the city of Bradenton also is in progress, with completion of project design and permitting expected in February 2013 and the start of construction slated for the end of this month.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Price Tag
Lakewood Ranch’s irrigation utility, Braden River Utilties, in April announced it would be moving forward with infrastructure improvements needed to bring reclaimed water to the community.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District took on 50% of the total cost of $1.5 million, to bring reclaimed water in from the city of Sarasota.

Improvements and costs for the reclaimed water itself translated into a 50% increase in cost for users, with costs increasing from 60 cents per 1,000 gallons to 90 cents per gallon. The new rates went into effect Oct. 1.
Braden River Utilities officials could not be reached for comment by press time.

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