County reports for 2020 and 2021 provide details about sources of drinking water and its quality

Peace River Authority continues to be biggest provider of water for county customers

Sarasota County’s Public Utilities Department staff decreased the amount of drinking water it purchased from the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority in 2021, as noted in the official report on the county’s water supplies for that year.

Instead of making up 76% of the total, as it did in 2020, the Peace River Authority portion in 2021 was 65%, the report shows. As its name indicates, the Authority takes water from the Peace River, but it also utilizes wells that draw water from the Floridan Aquifer. That aquifer is the largest in the southeastern United States, the St. Johns River Water Management District notes. Not only is it found beneath all of Florida, the District explains, but it also is beneath portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and it extends into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Additionally, county staff noted that water from the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. treatment facility near Venice comprised 14% of the county’s water supply in 2021. In 2020, with rehabilitation work underway on that plant, the county did not use any water from it.

Further, county staff decreased the supply bought from Manatee County to 18% in 2021; the previous year, the figure was 20%.

The Manatee water comes from the Manatee River and wells that also pull water from the Floridan Aquifer, the county’s 2021 drinking water report points out.

As Public Utilities Director Mike Mylett explained to the commissioners this summer, staff was unable to extend the county’s agreement with Manatee County officials to continue those water purchases. Therefore, Mylett told the county commissioners on June 24, staff is planning on a larger amount of water from the Carlton Facility after the Manatee contract ends in April 2025. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) has approved a modification of the county’s permit for the Carlton plant to enable staff to withdraw up to 15.5 million gallons of water a day (mgd), Mylett said.

The Carlton facility has 16 wells, county documents note.

Finally, the 2021 report shows that 3% of the water supply came from the county’s University Parkway wellfield, which draws its water from the Floridan Aquifer. That figure was down from 4% in 2020, the report notes.

In a news release issued in conjunction with the publication of the 2021 report, county Communications staff pointed out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that Sarasota County’s water quality meets all federal standards.

Water is sampled and tested daily, the release noted. The samples, which are collected throughout the distribution system, are analyzed for bacteria content, the news release said.

Additionally, the samples are analyzed each day as part of the treatment process, to determine whether any adjustments need to be made, the release explained.

Both the 2020 and 2021 drinking water reports also say, “The raw water we supply contains various substances or contaminants, some of which must be removed by a treatment process to produce water that meets federal safe drinking water standards. Naturally occurring drinking water sources are never 100 percent ‘pure’ as even rainwater contains dissolved minerals or other chemicals.”

“Sarasota County works around the clock to ensure top-quality water is provided all customers,” the news release added.

Both the 2020 and 2021 water reports are posted on the county website. Additionally, a hard copy of the 2021 report is available by visiting Sarasota County Public Librariesor the Sarasota County Operations Center, which is located at 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd., east of Interstate 75.

Further, more information is available by calling 311.