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Lake Manatee Dam turns 50

Manatee County will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its drinking water supply Oct. 23.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. October 21, 2015
  • East County
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Every day, Katie Gilmore steps over Manatee County’s drinking water as she walks to her office at the Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant, home to the Lake Manatee Dam.

Gilmore, the plant superintendent, sees water swirling through filtration systems as she walks the second level of the plant.

“A lot of us here want to be taken for granted because that means we’re doing everything right,” Gilmore said. “Drinking water is such an important part of life. People turn on their faucet and they assume it will be there and it’s safe to drink.”

On Oct. 23, Manatee County celebrates the 50th anniversary of breaking ground to provide its primary source of drinking water. County commissioners, staff and the public will enjoy lunch, tours and the unveiling of a historical marker honoring the 1965 County Commission’s plan to dam the Manatee River and create the lake that now provides water to more than 250,000 people.

“The creation of the dam created Lake Manatee,” Gilmore said. “Everyone (in Manatee County)who has water service, we supply water for them, except the city of Bradenton.”

Located off Waterline Road, the plant also sells water wholesale to Sarasota County and the town of Longboat Key. Sarasota County spokesman Jason Bartolone said Sarasota County receives 20.3% of its total drinking water from Manatee.

On average, 37 million gallons of water are distributed daily. Lake Manatee supplies two-thirds of the water, while Manatee pumps ground water from an East County well field in Duette Park for the other one-third. The water is treated separately, but combined before being distributed to residents.

A staff of nearly 40 people work to monitor conditions in the lake and operate the dam and plant facilities.



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