GREEN COVE SPRING – The City of Green Cove Springs will continue its focus on the city-provided utility service after voting unanimously to approve a new Water Master Plan and the request for grant …
GREEN COVE SPRING – The City of Green Cove Springs will continue its focus on the city-provided utility service after voting unanimously to approve a new Water Master Plan and the request for grant dollars to pay for part of the plan they had just approved.
“It has been, I believe, at least 20 years since we’ve had a formal water master plan completed,” said Mike Null, assistant city manager and public works director. “We knew our system was in pretty decent shape for years, but it was time to review all of our resources and see what the needs were.”
By the end of next year, the city should be well on its way to an improved water utility as 2019 should see about $1.27 million in projects to meet the most immediate of needs as determined by their engineering consultants at Mittauer and Associates. However, that’s just a drop in the bucket of the improvements coming down the pike as the plan sets forth a half a decade of water improvements.
Shepler said the current system has a number of limitations caused by under performing equipment as well as overuse by customers during peak times. Some areas in the northern reaches of the city are currently serviced by a temporary hook up to the Clay County Utility Authority, but all of that should be fixed by the end of the master plan, according to a document prepared over the last year by the consulting firm.
As council listened to the plan at its June 19 meeting, the conversation turned from projects that the city will complete to educating customers on what is to come for the city’s water utility, as well as what are responsible practices in regard to water use.
“How are we going to define ourselves as a city?” council member Van Royal said. “The programs we’re looking at here are actually to provide more water. More pressure, more availability, we’re going to make sure that if you want to irrigate your yard you irrigate it and off you go, as opposed to, we know that water in our state, across the country, and globally that water is becoming sort of a finite product.”
Royal continued, saying the city had used a pricing structure that would cause customers to think before they left irrigation on during a rainstorm, or practiced other needless water uses. He said that the solution is for the city to hold an informational meeting with members of the public, specifically those at Magnolia Point who will see the greatest change in the near future, to explain that they will see rate increases as time goes on, and that they may need to change their current habits.
“This is a big deal, and it’s not just from a money component, it’s from a social attitude about water that we all should start to have,” Royal said.
City Manager Danielle Judd agreed, but cautioned the council that the meeting might turn into a finger pointing session laying blame on the city for current water pressure issues, despite the fact that the city is taking steps to improve pressure throughout its entire system.
Immediately following the approval of the master plan, the council voted to move forward with a request for inclusion in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s State Revolving Fund for a sum of $6,090,600 for phase one improvements listed in the plan that would be carried out over the next year or so. The city also applied for St. Johns River Water Management District money for projects in February of this year for improvements to the Harbor Road Wastewater Treatment Facility after receiving $2 million in funds from the SJRWMD in 2016 which paid for one third of a new reclaimed water main on the north side of town.