Staff recommends participation in either of the two methods outlined below. Furthermore, staff favors participation in the Preliminary Design Report as a full member.
On Friday, March 28, 2008, the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) hosted a meeting of all parties who have expressed an interest in any of the Alternative Water Supply projects to date. During the course of the meeting, an overview and status of each project was presented and discussed, together with summary cost data for each utility.
Four projects are significant to the City of Leesburg: the preferred project is acquiring surface water from the Lower Ocklawaha, followed by one of two St. Johns River surface water projects; either taking surface water from the St. Johns at Deland or at Seminole County’s Yankee Lake project and the fourth Alternative Water Supply project of interest is sea water demineralization.
The SJRWMD has informed City staff during the CUP permit renewal process that as a condition of a long-duration (20 year) CUP, the City of Leesburg will be required to participate in at least one of these projects, or a similar Alternative Water Supply project, should another suitable project be forthcoming. This requirement has been imposed by the District on virtually all CUP’s issued in recent years; this requirement is expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
The project which is furthest along is Seminole County’s Yankee Lake project – a CUP permit is pending for this project’s first phase. The CUP has been legally challenged by several Northeast Florida local governments, at least one environmental group and by Orange County; the latter apparently largely in response to South Florida’s recent denial of an Orange County Utilities permit to withdraw surface waters from the Kissimmee River. I believe these challenges are without basis, but expect it will be several years before the issues are finally decided. The outcome will likely limit the availability of water from the St. Johns River, perhaps significantly.
The viability of the Lower Ocklawaha River as a water source is, at present, unknown. One fundamental missing piece of the puzzle is the lack of Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL’s) for the river. SJRWMD is in the process of conducting the studies necessary to establish MFL’s for the river. This is expected to be completed in 2009, according to District staff. This, too will receive substantial attention which will, rightly or wrongly, delay any decision on the use of the Lower Ocklawaha as an Alternative Water Supply
Even with the most positive outcome, the amounts of water available from any of these rivers for use as an Alternative Water Supply is finite, and in my opinion is only a stop-gap measure to meet near-term water needs. Over the longer term, the only viable long-term solution to the water supply needs of Florida is demineralization of sea water for potable water use.
With that in mind, I have followed the progress of one such project over the course of the past year – a proposed sea water demineralization facility generally located in the vicinity of Palm Coast. I have attended several of their more recent meetings to further evaluate the project and the participants. The participants, at this point are the obvious ones: Palm Coast, which has the great majority of the need, and Flagler and St. Johns Counties. Other, less obvious participants are Deland and Marion County. Possible participants are Mt. Dora and Leesburg.
The working group has established themselves under the name of Coquina Coast for purpose of this project and is in the final stages of development of an inter-local agreement to proceed with a Preliminary Design Report that will produce a 35% design for this project. SJRWMD has indicated that it will provide funding at a 30% level for the Preliminary Design Report, thus reducing the cost to the participants significantly.
The Coquina Coast working group has crafted a draft agreement that allows participation in the PDR either as a full, voting member or as an associate, non-voting member. Full, voting members pay their fair share, based upon participation and water usage, while associate members pay a proposed $10,000 annually. Associate members, as the agreement is crafted may “sit at the table”, participate in discussions, but may not vote and do not have any powers beyond sitting at the table.
Participation in the Preliminary Design Report process in either form does NOT require participation in the construction of any facility. Further, participation in the construction of the facility also DOES NOT mean the City will be required to take delivery of the final product in the future. Participation in the PDR as a full member sitting at the table, with a vote, does give us the opportunity to protect our interests should this project become feasible, and if our needs require water from this source. This is the level of participation staff is recommending.
The next step for Leesburg, should the Commission wish, is to ask the Coquina Coast working group to provide a cost estimate of our participation in the PDR as a full, voting member, and a draft inter-local agreement, incorporating our participation. From the last meetings I attended with this group, it is very clear they wish to have as many participants in the PDR as possible, in order to minimize the cost of the PDR to all members which is both logical and appropriate in my opinion.
The Commission will recall that Leesburg had previously made a commitment to provide for participation in the PDR phase of an Alternative Water Supply project. To that end, staff budgeted the first of three years’ participation in the current adopted budget, with the intent that each of the next two years would provide similar funding. At the time, I anticipated that the Lower Ocklawaha would be that project. At present, I believe that project is years away from consideration. Leesburg will need to satisfy the requirement of participation in an AWS project as a condition of CUP permit renewal, and the City cannot, nor should it delay CUP renewal for an indefinite period of time. These points are the basis for my recommendation to participate in the Coquina Coast PDR.
Should the Commission approve, the attached Resolution simply authorizes the City Manager and the Environmental Services/Public Works Director to express the City’s interest to the Coquina Coast group and negotiate our participation, subject to final approval of the inter-local agreement by the City Commission.
1. Approve the Resolution as presented; or,
2. Such alternative action as the Commission may deem appropriate
The City has committed to participation in an Alternative Water Source Preliminary Design Report and has provided funding in the amount of $250,000.00 for the first year of three in the current adopted budget. Funding for future years will be determined and provided in those budgets as appropriate. The City’s share of costs for the Coquina Coast PDR are not known, but will be brought back to the Commission concurrent with the inter-local agreement.
Department: Environmental Services
Prepared by: R. Sharp
Attachments: Yes____ No X
Advertised: ____Not Required ______
Attorney Review : Yes___ No X
Reviewed by: Dept. Head RSS
Finance Dept. _________JB_______
Deputy C.M. _________EFS_______
City Manager ___________________
Account No. 043-3021-533-3130
Project No. ________________
WF No. ___________________
A resolution of the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida authorizing the City Manager and the Environmental Services/Public Works DIRECTOR to initiate negotiations for participation in a Preliminary Design Report for a sea water demineralization facility; and providing an effective date.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA:
THAT the City Manager and the Environmental Services/Public Works Director are hereby authorized to negotiate an interlocal agreement with the Coquina Coast working group for the City’s participation in a Preliminary Design Report for a sea water demineralization facility;
THAT the City’s participation shall be that of a full, voting member;
THAT any such interlocal agreement shall require approval of the City Commission of the City of Leesburg and shall not be binding upon the City of Leesburg until such approval is given by the City Commission;
THAT this resolution shall become effective immediately.
PASSED AND ADOPTED by the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, at a regular meeting held the ___14th__ day of _April____ 2008.