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East County Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2010 7 years ago

Ranch IDA proceeds with irrigation strategy

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH —Lakewood Ranch Community Development District supervisors unanimously have backed a plan for tackling Lakewood Ranch’s longstanding irrigation issues.

During a joint-CDD strategy meeting March 23, the Inter-District Authority, with the support of each CDD, prioritized how it will move forward with addressing irrigation issues, including questions about water billing and the potential use of reclaimed water.

Supervisors resolved to “proceed in a firm, non-antagonistic approach to resolve irrigation issues” with its irrigation water supplier, Braden River Utilities.

Town Hall staff first will work to address what supervisors categorized as immediate fixes, including securing as-builts for the piping system in Lakewood Ranch, settling potential billing issues with BRU, talking with the city of Bradenton to determine its status for selling reclaimed water and to develop an agreement or memorandum of understanding with BRU that spells out the district’s expectations for water quality and quantity, among other items.

Supervisors also authorized staff to work with irrigation consultant Azad Shah to develop a scope of work for the next phase of the irrigation study.

“We’re off the dime now,” CDD 4 Supervisor Michael Spring said. “This was not an agreement to make a meeting. This was an agreement to begin a process. Time is important.”

If a consultant’s analysis is correct and certain billing issues are resolved, the IDA could shave thousands off its monthly water bill for irrigation, saving money for each district to use on other projects.

Ryan Heise, director of operations for Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, said some of the billing issues being questioned need more exploration.

“We’re all going to have a better understanding of how the water is metered,” Heise said of the board’s decision. “Some of the immediate issues were to work on an agreement with BRU. “That’s a strong attempt from us to try to get water quality and water quantity and pressure standard. That can be an immediate impact on residential irrigation if we are on that.”

Supervisors also spelled out mid-range and long-term goals to address in the future. Mid-range goals include establishing more precise metering of the IDA’s water usage as well as considering charging other entities for use of the IDA’s water pipelines.

Long-term goals include the potential use of reclaimed water in the district and a potential decision for a hydraulic analysis of the system, which would cost about $130,000.

Access to reclaimed water from the city of Bradenton is at least a year away, Shah said.

Last week’s vote will allow Town Hall staff to address irrigation issues identified by the board more quickly and without having to go back to the IDA for a vote on each item.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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