LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With irrigation a recurring sore point and financial issue in Lakewood Ranch, Town Hall staff is preparing plans to fine-tune best management practices.
The irrigation initiative announced Tuesday during community development district workshop meetings will analyze ways to improve water distribution and consumption in Lakewood Ranch.
The program will use information provided in an irrigation study conducted by Azad Shah of LPA Group, who was contracted by the Inter-District Authority in 2009, and input from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The initiative will include consumption courses for res
idents, pressure monitoring and updating irrigation infrastructure.
In March, Shah determined the duration of irrigation was the problem for most neighborhoods and said some communities require anywhere between 5-10 hours of irrigation per week, though Braden River Utilities, the water provider, allows 2 to 4.5 hours per week on a once-per-week watering schedule.
Shah also said the districts would need roughly $3.5 million worth of improvements to the irrigation system.
"We're introducing improvements to help," said Eva Rey, executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority.
Braden River Utilities recently entered an agreement to buy reclaimed water from the city of Bradenton. The utility will pay 32 cents for every 1,000 gallons of reclaimed water and use a minimum of 2 million gallons and maximum of 4 million gallons of water per day.
Lakewood Ranch residents will see a 50 percent increase in their water bills beginning Oct. 1. The rates will increase from 60 cents per 1,000 gallons to 90 cents per 1,000 gallons per month over the next five years. The increase will cost residents an estimated $4 to $8 more per month depending on the neighborhood in which they live and the amount of water being used.
The four community districts will see between $90,000 to $100,000 added to their 2013 fiscal year budgets beginning in October to absorb the water rate increase.
In other news Tuesday:
n Supervisors for districts 2 and 5, serving Country Club and Edgewater, agreed to delay repaving Masters Avenue between Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road until January 2013 to avoid impacting roadways for guests visiting the community during the holidays.
n Supervisors learned that a free shredding service day that will be open to the public Sept. 22.
Residents can drop off personal documents between 9 a.m.-noon for shredding at the Lakewood Ranch Grow Financial Branch, 11008 Arcade Place or Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. The services will be provided by Accu-Shred. Those interested are asked to limit shredding material to two medium size boxes.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.