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Water-Related News

Regional water authority plans ahead for huge capital costs

Proposed budget increases for the regional water supplier would only add about 12 cents to a typical user in 2022, even with a big jump in capital spending expected to start in the near future.

The Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority Commission met Wednesday [Mar. 31st] in Charlotte County with a commissioner from each of DeSoto, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties. Water authority staff presented the five and 20-year capital improvement projects as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget. The budget must be voted on Aug. 4. Commissioners will hear the full budget presentation on June 2.

Consultants for the authority are finishing a feasibility study to build a third reservoir that is much larger than the first two, although how large has not been determined, Deputy Director Mike Coates told The Daily Sun. The biggest reservoir online now holds about 6 billion gallons and was completed in 2009. The first 500 million gallon reservoir was built by General Development Corporation, which went bankrupt in the 1980s. Charlotte County bought out its utilities operations and the regional water authority bought out the regional facilities in 1991.

The massive debt for buying out General Development, which many consider to be a bad deal on the public side, will finally be paid off in 2022, Director Pat Lehman told the commission. That will reduce the annual budget by almost $2 million a year.