County Commission approves contract for design of new water line to build upon Peace River Authority’s expanded service

Commissioner Moran urges county administration to seek water management district funding whenever possible to lessen county costs

A graphic shows the location of the planned county water line project. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Sarasota County Commission this week approved a project that will provide the community with a new pipeline for its water system.

Formally, on Feb. 13, the board agreed to pay the Kimley-Horn and Associates consulting firm in Sarasota $1,204,242 to design a transmission line that will extend north from an area just south of Clark Road and east of Cow Pen Slough. However, because of a $500,000 increase in the project cost — with the total estimated at $2,768,000 — the commission also had to amend its 2018 fiscal year budget to appropriate the extra money for the initiative.

The $500,000 will come out of the county’s Utility System Renewal & Replacement fund, a Feb. 13 staff memo says.

The design work is expected to take about 12 months, with construction of the county water line anticipated to take 16 months, the staff memo notes.

Commissioner Michael Moran ultimately made the motion to approve the actions staff had recommended for the project, but he first asked Chair Nancy Detert for permission to offer “quick comments” directed to county administration.

“We did not have any [Southwest Florida Water Management District funding] on this,” Moran pointed out. His message to County Administrator Jonathan Lewis, he continued, was that whenever the county is working on any type of water-related project, it should make an attempt to get funding assistance from the water management district. “We do need the extra effort of putting in an application.”

A chart shows a breakdown of expenses for Kimley-Horn and Associates’ work. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Moran added that in his one-on-one discussions with staff about the new pipeline, he had joked that no potential for help from the water management district should be overlooked, even “if we have a drippy faucet.”

Moran previously has talked about serving on the Southwest Florida Water Management District board.

Lewis and Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho have explained in recent budget workshops that county departments, such as Public Utilities, have “enterprise funds” that can be used for initiatives specifically related to the work of those departments. The accounts contain revenue the departments generate through services to the public. However, commissioners have been more outspoken since late last summer in urging any county savings possible as they work on means of balancing future county budgets.

No one had signed up on Feb. 13 to address the commission about the water main project, Detert noted, so County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh advised her that the commissioners could vote on all three staff-recommended actions in one motion.

Along with authorizing the extra expense and the Kimley-Horn contract, the board had to approve the modification of the scope of the project, the staff memo explains.

The county receives water from the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority through a 24-inch water main interconnect at the intersection of Preymore Street and State Road 681, the memo says. The Authority plans to construct a new 48-inch water transmission main that will extend to the area just south of Clark Road and east of Cow Pen Slough, the memo adds. The county project will start at that point and extend west along Clark Road and then northwest along Proctor Road to reach the county’s Pump Station No. 5, which is located just west of Interstate 75, the Kimley-Horn agreement says.

Kimley-Horn will handle the route analysis, engineering, design and permitting for the project, thanks to the commission’s vote.

“The final pipe route and size will be determined during the route analysis and modeling efforts,” the memo says.

“Staff will conduct community outreach” within the area where the pipelines will be extended, the memo also points out.

A graphic shows the conditions for the Peace River Authority on Feb. 15. ‘ASR’ stands for Aquifer Storage and Recovery. Image from the Authority website

On its website, the Peace River Authority says that it supplies an average of 25 million gallons of water each day to its members: Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto and Manatee counties. Commissioner Alan Maio, who represents the County Commission on the Peace River board, has assured his colleagues over the past year that, in spite of the growing population in the region, the Authority has plenty of capacity to meet the demand.