Sarasota County’s water supply more than adequate, based on latest data from Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, County Commission chair reports

County demand this year projected to be 21.1 million gallons a day

This graphic for the Peace River Authority board meeting on Oct. 1 shows details about water supply and demand in Sarasota County. Image courtesy Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority

During the Oct. 12 Sarasota County Commission meeting, Chair Alan Maio took a few minutes to update his colleagues on the county’s water supply, as he serves as the board liaison to the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.

As of Sept. 1, Maio said, the authority had sufficient water for its four member counties for 409 days, if no rain fell.

“And, of course, it will rain,” Maio added.

Peace River serves Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, as well as the City of North Port.

As of Oct. 1, Maio pointed out, the four counties were using only 70% of the supply.

A presentation prepared for the Authority board members on Oct. 1 showed that the water demand for September averaged 25.07 million gallons per day.

A graphic in that presentation noted that water usage in Sarasota County had climbed from an annual average of 15.78 million gallons a day in 2010 to 20.56 million gallons a day in 2020. The graphic projected a demand level of 21.1 million gallons a day this year.

Additionally, the graphic showed that the county is producing 10.52 million gallons of water per day and that it is getting 5 million gallons per day from outside sources other than the Authority. (Manatee County has been the other external provider, county Public Utilities Director Mike Mylett has pointed out to the commissioners. The agreement that Sarasota County has in place with Manatee County is set to expire in 2025, staff has noted. Mylett has talked about negotiations to renew that contract.)

The county has total water capacity of 33.58 million gallons a day, the Authority graphic said. In August, Sarasota County used 19.55 million gallons per day, or 58% of that capacity.

Further, Maio noted on Oct. 12, “We’re speeding along” with the construction of the third reservoir, while the existing reservoirs had 6.5 billion gallons of water as of Sept. 1. The aquifer storage and recovery system wells had almost 9 billion gallons, Maio added.

When the Peace River “is running high,” the Authority website explains, the Authority withdraws more water from the river than the counties use in a given day. The Authority’s permit allows it to take up to 120 million gallons a day during such periods, the website adds.

This graphic shows trends in water withdrawals from the Peace River. Image courtesy Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority

For the Oct. 1 Authority board meeting, a graphic showed that the organization withdrew 50.8 million gallons a day from the river in August. That compared to the rate of 45.9 million gallons per day in August 2020, a report noted.

For September, the figure was 16.3 million gallons per day.

A Sept. 9 report prepared for the board members’ Oct. 1 meeting says that rainfall in the Peace River Basin for the prior 12 months was 4.5 inches below normal. That document noted that rainfall this August totaled 6.3 inches, “while the historical average rainfall of August is 7.7 inches.”

This graphic produced by the Southwest Florida Water Management District provides information about rainfall over the past year. Image courtesy Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority