A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
South Lake Regional Water Initiative Meeting
MARCH 23, 2015
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special session on March 23, 2015 at 1:00 p.m., at the Clermont Community Center at 620 West Montrose Street in Clermont, Florida for participation in the South Lake Regional Water Initiative meeting. Commissioners present at the meeting were Sean Parks and Timothy I. Sullivan. Other officials present included: Mayor Tim Loucks of Clermont, Councilman Ray Goodgame of Groveland, Councilman Joe Saunders of Minneola, Sam Oppelaar from the Lake County Water Authority, and Victoria Bartley, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Parks opened the meeting by reiterating the mission of the Water Initiative, which is to protect Lake County’s water resources and to establish plans for safe, affordable water supply for Lake County residents and businesses. He explained that there was an update on Phase One of the South Lake Regional Water Initiative (SLRWI), which had been to put plans in place for alternative water supply and preliminary engineering, and Phase Two is going into unified conservation measures that must be in place for the next generation, including conservation rules that hopefully both the cities and the County can jointly adopt for South Lake and will positively impact future development such as the Wellness Way Sector Plan.
Mayor Tim Loucks of Groveland commented that they were looking for a sustainable and affordable water source to last until 2025 or even 2035. He remarked that the key to this process was to bring in enough water at a rate that residents can afford while still staying competitive with the neighboring counties.
CENTRAL FLORIDA AND SOUTH LAKE WATER INITIATIVE UPDATE
Mr. Alan Oyler, P.E., explained that the CFWI (Central Florida Water Initiative) Groundwater Availability planning-level estimates show that the average groundwater use with some conservation from the years 1995 to 2010 is 800 million gallons per day (MGD), and the sustainable level of traditional groundwater sources available for water supply without causing unacceptable harm to water resources and associated natural systems is 850 MGD. He reported that the findings from the Groundwater Availability Evaluation projected the water demand to reach 1.1 billion gallons per day by 2035. He remarked that traditional groundwater sources cannot meet all projected and permitted needs in the CFWI (850 MGD), so alternative water supplies will be needed to satisfy the remaining 250 MGD of demand. He relayed that the solutions phase has been focused on finding alternative water supply projects, and the Solutions Team after months of screening and modeling has a proposed list of 148 projects that will produce 260 to 300 MGD at a capital cost of about $3.15 billion. He specified that two projects for meeting SLRWI member needs were submitted and reviewed, one of which was the South Lake Centralized Well Field that would be located in South Lake County with the Lower Floridian Aquifer as its source, but the water is anticipated to have high TDS and require treatment and an extensive transmission system; the other project, which is the South Lake Distributed Well Field, would be co-located at existing sites and whose source would also be the Lower Floridian Aquifer, but the water was anticipated to be potable based on other LFA wells in area and would take advantage of existing infrastructure. He mentioned that the Centralized project is projected to be $116 million or $3.37 per 1000 gallons, and the Distributed project is projected to be $21.8 million or $0.42 per1000 gallons, so the preferred option is the Distributed Wellfield project. He related that the solutions report is currently being reviewed, and both projects are represented with the intent to seek state funding for the project list, with a draft anticipated to be approved for public comment by late May 2015. He explained that the WRA, an environmental consulting firm, has been working with UWG to review future water demand projections and anticipate wrapping the review up by end of April, which is the most critical step of study, as all other work will be built on these numbers. He mentioned that the WRA had also assisted SLRWI members in preparing funding applications for project related work. He stated that they anticipated the completion of the Phase I study by end of 2015 and will try to capitalize on CFWI efforts and further evaluate Distributed Wellfield option. He remarked that the report will be used as the basis for the plan moving forward and in seeking future CUPs and will likely require additional agreements for shared infrastructure.
Water Conservation PRESENTATION
Dr. Pierce Jones, UF/IFAS Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, gave a presentation on ways to conserve water in the coming years to help existing development conserve what available resources there are and not hinder any future development. He mentioned that one approach to accomplish this is to make smart ecological decisions when building developments, particularly regarding the watering of turf. He relayed that a large part of the appeal of developments is the consistency of the houses and lawns, which means having to water the turf on a certain schedule. He specified that this was not that bad on a small scale, but the impact on the water supply and the quality of the run-off is huge when it becomes the default for an entire territory. He explained that part of his job at the university is to try to convince people to irrigate more efficiently, including not irrigating the sidewalk or side of the house, and to educate them on the cumulative impact it has on the water supply. He suggested that the University of Florida’s recommendations for mowing, fertilizing, pesticide use, and water irrigation be followed in order to maximize conservation effectiveness. He remarked that the need to reduce anthropogenic nutrient pollutants in aquatic ecosystems has been widely recognized in order to protect drinking water supplies and to reduce eutrophication, as well as the continued degradation of water around the world, principally through nitrogen and phosphorus additions in the waterways, largely through the production of fertilizers and increases in fossil fuel emissions. He commented that mowing, irrigating, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides all result in greenhouse gas emissions, but irrigation is the most energy intensive of all of them.
Florida Water Star PRESENTATION
Ms. Deidre Irwin, Florida Water Star Coordinator, St. Johns River Water Management District, gave a presentation on the Florida Water Star Program, which is a water conservation certification program. She explained that in order to be a certification program it must have certain defined criteria; a third party inspection process which reports back to the owner of the program; clear expectations of savings, values, or uses; and the equivalent of a technical advisory committee. She added that the federal trade commission oversees certification programs for truth in advertising, and she has been implementing a certification program in Central Florida for several years now that is a statewide voluntary program for residential or commercial, new and existing, and outdoors and indoors. She commented that the certification program requires that both landscape irrigation and indoor criteria, with the reduction of irrigated turf grass and increasing shade as a major component of the landscaping requirement. She noted that since the landscape industry had not been trained to design sustainable landscape or efficient irrigation systems, they have now enacted a training course for the certifiers that do the inspections. She mentioned that the Commercial and Community Water Star has a water budget that requires that all commercial projects use no more than 20 inches of water a year in order to create a more thoughtful design process.
question and comment
Commr. Parks related that the SLRWI has addressed the alternative water supply issue and is moving in that direction as well as the allocation, and opined that the logical next step would be to tackle the issue of water conservation. He remarked that the goal of the SLRWI going into Phase Two is to be unified on some of the recommendations that were presented.
Mayor Loucks mentioned that he was in favor of the idea of one unified code for the cities and County as a whole so that water usage is uniform throughout the entire south region.
Commr. Sullivan opined that the idea of being uniform is solid and will ensure that one city is not favored over another, and it will fit with the general program for continued growth, since growth will not occur if the water problem is not fixed.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:23 PM.
jimmy conner, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK