Sarasota County will need access to more drinking water by 2030 to meet anticipated customer demand, utilities director reports

County Commission approves annual report to Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority

This is one chart included in the materials for the water demand item on the Jan. 11 agenda. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Given “current population growth projections” and its existing drinking water sources, Sarasota County will need access to more potable water by 2030 to meet the future demands of residents, a Jan. 11 county staff memo pointed out to the county commissioners.

County staff will have to start adding new water supply sources “gradually beginning in 2025,” the memo said, to meet the anticipated demand for an extra 5 million gallons per day, on average, that has been projected for 2043.

A contract with Manatee County will expire in April 25, the memo explained, resulting in a loss of 5 million gallons per day (mgd).

Provided by Public Utilities Department Director Mike Mylett, the memo accompanied a PowerPoint presentation in the agenda packet for the commission’s regular meeting on Jan. 11.

One of the PowerPoint slides shows that the number of county water customers in 2018 was 219,040. By 2030, the figure is expected to be 272,659, an increase that is just below 25%. The water demand in 2018 was 19.74 mgd, the slide notes. In 2021, it was 24.93 mgd.

By 2030, the demand is anticipated to be 27.27 mgd. In 2043, the estimate is 30.65 mgd for 306,459 customers.

As required by the county’s contract with the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, the board members this week were asked to approve water supply demand projections for the period covering 2023 to 2043. They did so in a unanimous vote, as they gave their nod to all of the items on their Consent Agenda of routine business matters.

The Authority partners with not only Sarasota County but also with Charlotte, Manatee and DeSoto counties “to provide potable water to a growing population of over 900,000 people,” the Peace River website explains. The Authority supplies 26 million gallons per day to its members, the website adds.

None of the commissioners offered remarks on the water demand item. Typically, unless a board member has a question or concern about something on the Consent Agenda and pulls that item for discussion, the commissioners approve the matters without comment.

The Peace River Authority “is the major water supplier to Sarasota County, providing an average … of up to 15.06 mgd,” Mylett’s memo pointed out.

This graphic shows more details about the population projections. ‘RWSP’ stands for regional water supply plan. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The presentation of the annual water supply report for the county “provides the Board with the opportunity to view the long-term requirements and strategies” in regard to the supply, the memo explained.

In addressing specific county facilities, the memo said, “The University Wellfield and Treatment Facility (WTF)” represents an additional 2 mgd of permitted capacity. However, that facility “depends on the Manatee County water supply for blending purposes to meet water quality requirements. As such,” the memo added, “the University WTF is anticipated to be out of service by 2025.”

In years past, the memo noted, county staff considered the option of installing a reverse osmosis operation at that plant, but staff determined that that would not be a cost-effective source of water supply. Instead, the memo said, staff is planning to transfer the groundwater allocation from the University WTF to the Carlton WTF near Venice.

Further, the memo pointed out, the Public Utilities staff is rehabilitating the Carlton WTF, which will result in that facility’s increased capacity from 12 mgd to 15 mgd. The second of two phases is expected to be completed in March 2023, the memo said.

Additionally, staff will be retiring the Venice Gardens Water Treatment Facility by 2030. Its water supply production of 2.75 mgd “will diminish in the years leading up to its retirement date,” the memo noted.

“The methodologies used in this report were based on population projections from the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR), Sarasota County’s housing growth trends, historical water production and the retrofit of existing neighborhoods with potable water service through the [county’s] Capital Improvement Program,” Mylett added in the memo.