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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 1 week ago

Oakland puts utility burden on developers

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To comply with state law, the town has prepared a 10-year plan for how it will provide for the needs of its water customers.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

For 16 months, an engineering firm has been working with town of Oakland staff to assess its water-supply facilities plan, and the end result is a $900,000 savings for the town’s water customers.

CPH Engineers was hired to evaluate existing utility facilities and the town’s ability to adequately produce, treat and distribute water; to review options for alternative water sources for irrigation; and to assess impacts to the water system in relation to the town’s growth.

“The capital improvements were primarily determined by current and projected residential and commercial growth within our utility service area,” Public Works Director Mike Parker wrote in his memo to the Town Commission. “Funding for the improvements outlined in the plan could be from any combination of impact fees, develop contributions, utility reserves, (state revolving fund) loans and various grant funding.”

Developers currently pay a required utility impact fee and are requested to pay an additional fee for reclaimed-water system improvements.

“There are four different elements to the water supply plan: the potable/drinking water, wastewater, reclaimed water and alternative water supply, which is a big state mandate right now — finding an alternative water supply for irrigation and things like that,” Parker said.

“By providing this we can look ahead and we can compel these developers to provide many of these improvements at their cost so our utility customers don’t have to pay for these improvements,” Parker said. “These improvements are going to help everybody.”

The plan is mandated by Florida statute and is one of the many requirements of the town’s consumptive-use permit issued by the St. Johns River Water Management District, he said.

The plan consists of four capital improvement components: drinking water, wastewater, reclaim water and alternative water supplies. It also recommends water supply-related updates to the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

The most recent permit was issued in 2017.

“By adopting this plan, the town has much more leverage when requiring developers to construct improvements at their own expense,” Parker said. “As an example, it is estimated that developers will contribute nearly $1 million toward reclaimed-water infrastructure within the next five years. This is above and beyond the water and wastewater impact fees they are already required to pay.”  

Major projects being proposed include pipeline improvements, additional fire hydrants, the drilling of a new water well, and a surface water treatment plant to provide a large portion of Oakland’s irrigation demands.

Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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