LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The final two projects that will bring higher quality reclaimed water for irrigation from Bradenton to Lakewood Ranch are expected to be completed and ready for full operation in the next few months.
Officials from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which is sharing project costs with Braden River Utilities, a subsidiary of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., say the project is about 82 percent complete and will be a huge benefit to the area.
"Construction work on the main water line and the pumping station is done. We are working on a storage pond now. We extended the completion date from June for additional pumping and storage capacity," said Anthony Andrade, reclaimed water coordinator for the district, which is a state agency.
The pumping station that will supply the water to Lakewood Ranch is on 27th Street East in Bradenton.
Bob Simons, Braden River Utilities manager and president of SMR subsidiary LWR Development, said nearly all main piping has been installed underground, completing work along State Road 70 east of Interstate 75 near White Eagle
"All the piping has been installed with the exception of a termination pipe that will filter into the receiving storage pond," Simons said.
Simons said he anticipates everything will be ready and Lakewood Ranch can receive all its reclaimed water from Bradenton by late July or August.
In an agreement reached in July 2012, Braden River Utilities pledged to pay for reclaimed water from the city of Bradenton. Originally, the agreement called for a maximum of 4 million gallons of reclaimed water a day, but with the additional storage, Lakewood Ranch will now be able to take all excess reclaimed water from Bradenton, which amounts to about 5 million to 6 million gallons per day.
Additionally, the city of Sarasota is supplying the southern portion of Lakewood Ranch with 2 million gallons of reclaimed water a day.
In all, four reclaimed water districts will supply water to the Lakewood Ranch community. SMR Farms now receives 3 million gallons daily of higher-end reclaimed water from Manatee County and Sarasota County provides almost 2 million gallons of reclaimed water a day to the southernmost portion of Lakewood Ranch.
Reclaimed water is a much better alternative to groundwater, which is stored in wells and becomes extremely salty over time. The salt lowers the quality of landscaping.
The project isn't unique to Manatee County. The Villages, a large master-planned community similar to Lakewood Ranch in Sumter County, gets reclaimed water from several outside sources, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald