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University Place leaders say Pond 14 seems to be losing water faster than other ponds.
East County Wednesday, May 3, 2017 1 year ago

University Place residents worried for water

Drought, pump failure create challenge for irrigation pond.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

The future of one of University Place’s largest ponds remains mucky as it battles drought conditions and a failed water well.

The well in Pond 14 has collapsed and can’t refill the pond, which provides irrigation water to a section of homes within University Place.

The University Place Community Development District board on April 26 voted unanimously to approve a $19,500 contract with Parrish Well Drilling to cap off the old well and drill a new one for the lake. Drilling a new well will be more secure in the long term. Redrilling the old well could result in future collapses, the district’s engineer told supervisors.

CDD Chairman Ric Romanoff said permitting and installation of the well could take up to 90 days.

“It’s getting bad. It’s getting worse. It’s not going to get better until we get rain,” Romanoff said of the pond’s condition.

Residents have been worried about aesthetics of the area’s ponds, which are at least 3 feet lower than normal.

“The drought has put extreme stress on all of our ponds, especially Pond 14,” Community Association board member Kathryn Murphy said during a joint meeting April 26 of the University Place Homeowners Association and Community Development District boards. “Healthy ponds are vital to University Place.”

In Pond 14, water levels are at least 6 feet lower than the grass line. Association members worry the pump will not come online before the pond dries up.

It dropped about 6 inches in one week, University Place Community Association Manager Stephanie Curtis said.

“It won’t take quite 90 days to dry that pond up at this point,” Curtis said. “We can’t keep taking water out of the pond without putting water in.”

Curtis noted there will be a balance between efforts to conserve water while maintaining community aesthetics. For example, reducing the time fountains run in ponds could help minimize water lost to evaporation, but it also will cause the water to stagnant. As water levels lower and temperatures rise, it creates a recipe for algae blooms.

University Place already has scaled back to a once-weekly watering schedule, but Curtis said the association can further reduce watering on landscape that does not need it. It also has a moratorium on new plantings.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District on April 25 declared a Phase 1 water shortage for its 16 counties, including Manatee and Sarasota counties. A Phase 1 water shortage alerts the public that watering restrictions could be and prohibits “wasteful and unnecessary” water use, SWFWMD said in a release.

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