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Subdivision has plan to fight drought

Using reclaimed water will save Pebble Creek both money and drinking water.

By SUSAN THURSTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001


PEBBLE CREEK -- Pebble Creek is going on the offensive in the fight to keep grass green and bushes healthy during the ongoing drought.

Starting this week, the New Tampa subdivision will water a section of its landscaped common areas using reclaimed water from an on-site wastewater treatment plant.

The move is designed to save both money and drinking water.

"It's the right thing to do," said Michael Carricato, president of the Pebble Creek Homeowners Association. "We want to be part of the right kind of ecosystem."

The association had been planning to convert to reclaimed water for quite some time, but stepped up efforts largely because of the drought, he said. Below-average rainfall has parched yards and damaged shrubs and trees in landscaped-rich communities across the region.

Using reclaimed water should save the association about $200 a month in water bills, Carricato said. The treated sewage water costs about 30 cents for every 1,000 gallons compared with about $3 for 1,000 gallons of drinking water.

To get the water, the association tapped into a line at the Pebble Creek Golf and Country Club. The golf course uses reclaimed water to irrigate the grounds and had thousands of gallons extra a day.

The association plans to install about 5,000 feet of new piping to water the approximately 40 acres of common areas throughout the community. About 1,200 feet of pipes have been laid for the first area along Regents Park Drive.

The initial phase of the project cost about $8,000. The association will pay for the rest, in part, using savings reaped during the next few years.

Association leaders hope the reclaimed water will help beautify the 1,300-home community. Like homeowners and other subdivisions, Pebble Creek has been restricted to one day of watering a week. Using treated water will let them irrigate more often, Carricato said.

Pebble Creek was able to tap into reclaimed water because it has its own treatment plant. The community gets its water and sewer service through Pebble Creek Utilities Inc., instead of through the city or county.

Eventually, the community hopes it can use the reclaimed water to replenish its 19 ponds. The lack of rain has lowered retention lakes throughout the area, disappointing many people who relish the waterfront views.

- Susan Thurston can be reached at (813) 226-3463 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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