Saturday, November 26, 2011

Murky Policy on Water Restrictions in Lake Worth

A loyal reader pointed out that the South Florida Water Management District rescinded their water restrictions in Palm Beach County earlier this month.  That means that if you live in Palm Beach County, with certain exceptions, you can now water three days a week.  The City of Delray Beach issued a press release on 11/23 to this effect:
If you go to the SFWMD website, you are greeted by the following advisory:
If you follow the link on that page and look under Palm Beach County, City of Lake Worth it takes you to this page on the city's website:
Notice the (name of utility) - evidence of sloppy cut-and-paste
Lake Worth happens to be one of those exceptions, but reading the above, click on image for more detail, you will find something that repeats the same standards that are in effect in all of Palm Beach County - which is incorrect.  This page dates from January 2011.  In actuality, the city is under mandatory ONE DAY a week watering restrictions based upon city resolution.  At my urging last March (2011), when the SFWMD standards changed, the city issued this press release which re-iterates its one-day-a-week watering restrictions.  This is actually the page that should have the back-link from the SFWMD website.

Now, these most stringent standards adopted by the City of Lake Worth are following our special agreement with SFWMD regarding a maximum drawdown limit on our wells, since they are subject to salt-water intrusion due to their location being so far east and close to the Atlantic Ocean.  Construction of our Reverse Osmosis water plant was in response to constraints on our supply and water quality issues.  I am not sure where all this stands now since our Reverse Osmosis plant is now on-line and whether that changes anything from SFWMD's point of view.  However, our resolution still remains in full force and effect.

Given that, the city is doing nothing to enforce these standards and many people water their lawns during the middle of the day on any day of the week.  The City is one of the worst offenders.  Just today on my bike ride along South Palmway, the sprinklers in the median were running in two places along the landscaped area - on a Saturday, during the middle of the day.  It is not my first time seeing these sprinklers working in this location during the middle of day - I would say it was about the fifth time in recent memory.

The public needs clarity on the water standards as mandated by City resolution, the relationship between the SFWMD standards and whether or not our Reverse Osmosis plant makes any difference.  If we are indeed only to water one day a week, that standard needs to be enforced - otherwise why have it unless it is to mollify certain commissioners who are doing it for other reasons?

This has been sent to the Mayor, City Commissioners and City Manager.


Jack said...

It seemed that when the past Commission unilaterally terminated the Water Contract with PBC and decided to complete the RO Plant, there were two areas of vulnerability:
1)Without any political allies, Lake Worth was at the mercy of SFWMD, a notoriously anti development body, when it came to additional water requirements for industrial use in the POC.
2)Given the anticipated continuation of loss of wells due to salt water intrusion, future approvals from SFWMD for RO expansion or PBC for a new Water Contract would be problematic.

Wes Blackman said...

I think that the source of these special water restrictions is a back-handed way to say that we cannot approve any redevelopment beyond our existing density and intensity - which is why we have the Community Sustainability Department, etc. I remember the once Commissioner Jennings remarking that she wanted big signs at the city's borders saying "Water Crisis in Effect" I am sure the rest of the sign would read "Pass at your own risk."

Mary Lindsey said...

I wonder how long Lake Worth residents are going to tolerate being forced to conserve water beyond that which any other PBC resident is, pay for "free" energy conservation programs, pay even higher rates for electricity if they shower, clean their clothes or GASP! wash the salt and road grime off their internal combustion powered vehicles more than the average anarchist does, have their garbage subjected to monitoring and analysis while it piles up for once a week collection - all in the name of not wasting natural resources - but say nary a word in opposition when FINANCIAL resources are scattered to the wind never to be seen or heard from again.