Water supply for Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto deemed sufficient for growth

MANATEE -- As the four-county ­-- Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto -- region continues to grow, Peace River reservoirs still have sufficient drinking water reserves to support existing communities and new growth, according to Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority officials.

With at least 3 billion gallons in raw water reserves 95 percent of the time, the two reservoirs add resiliency to the region, said Kevin Morris, science and technology officer at Wednesday's water authority board meeting at the Manatee County Administration Center in Bradenton.

The second reservoir has a total capacity of 6 billion gallons. That regional reservoir on the RV Griffin Reserve in Arcadia, completely filled in 2010, is large enough to fit three Magic Kingdom parks inside, Morris said.

"A wonderful success story for water resiliency," he said during a five-year update of the second reservoir operation. "Water supply is certainly not constraining growth, and that's a great position to be in."

The water authority board, comprised of commissioners from all four counties, also heard about water supplies at the Peace River Facility. Water supply and treated water quality are excellent, according to the staff report.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie chairs the board, which includes Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio, Charlotte County Commissioner Christopher Constance, vice chairman, and DeSoto County Commissioner Elton Langford.

Of 102.7 million gallons of capacity, about 74 million gallons were used in April, which is using 71.2 percent of capacity.

Manatee County used 40.92 million gallons of its 52 million gallon capacity in April, which includes exporting 4 million gallons to Sarasota County and 3.79 million gallons to others.

Mike Coates, water authority deputy director, said demand is going up with 1 million gallons more a day used in April than April 2014.

"I don't think that's a surprise to anyone," he said. "We see the region growing so we can expect that

to continue."

To achieve the water authority's vision for regional pipeline interconnections, Coates discussed the Integrated Regional Water Supply Master Plan 2015, which includes a revised 20-year vision.

Coates discussed regional pipeline projects and priorities. The vision, developed in 2006, includes 100 miles of new pipelines to interconnect the region. So far, 25 miles have been completed for about $65 million.

Coates said the regional vision changed slightly over the years since some places don't require infrastructure to do the same thing.

"We have a lot of development going on in areas where we want to install this pipeline," he said.

A top priority is Lorraine Road as it's extended in the Lakewood Ranch area in the next two or three years.

Another future pipeline from Clarke Road to Fruitville could "aid in the delivery of regional water to Manatee County," Coates said.

"Manatee County envisions they will need regional water by 2034," he said.

Mark Simpson, Manatee County Water Division manager, said the first phase of the $18.4 million emergency repair of the Lake Manatee Dam rehabilitation was completed in October, extending the life of the dam at least another 50 years, providing drinking water to Manatee residents.

Phase two, expected to cost much less, isn't finalized. Preliminary design is due in September, according to county officials. Repairs are expected to begin in February.

"We are proud of the fact that we got it done," Simpson said. "We maintained full operation of the plant during the process. The result is better than what we started with. ... It does show you have to maintenance and reinvest in infrastructure."

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.