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Water wait could end soon

Oldsmar is thinking of accelerating the pace of getting homes connected to its reclaimed water system.

By ED QUIOCO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


OLDSMAR -- Residents eagerly awaiting reclaimed water to rescue their parched lawns may get the highly treated wastewater sooner than expected.

City Council members said at a meeting Tuesday that they may need to do something to help crews catch up on the growing backlog of orders for reclaimed water service.

The city, which had 561 reclaimed water customers at the end of March, has more than 100 orders for the service on a waiting list.

Council member David Tilki said one option would be to hire contractors to help city crews install the underground pipes necessary to hook up homes.

"We will discuss different ways to try to get caught up to get rid of this 2- to 3-month lag," Tilki said.

City Manager Bruce Haddock said Wednesday that he would meet with city staffers next week to discuss the application process for the service and ways the city can eliminate the backlog.

Some homeowners have complained about waiting for months despite having paid the city's $225 reclaimed water hookup fee.

Public Works Director John Mulvihill said that the city was swamped with requests for the service after a Times story Sunday described the backlog for reclaimed water. A local television station later did a news report on the problem.

"We have been getting a lot of publicity about our reclaimed water lately," Tilki said at the meeting.

Council member Ed Manny suggested that the city offer residents the chance to go to the city's wastewater treatment plant on Lafayette Boulevard and pick up some reclaimed water.

"This might be a pretty doggone good idea," Manny said. "If you want to put a couple barrels in the back of your pickup truck and go down to the wastewater treatment plant to pick up some reclaimed water, I think we should be prepared to do that."

Mulvihill said residents could pick up reclaimed water from the plant during business hours.

City crews have been working extra hours on the weekends to try to keep up and have been hooking up an average of 20 to 25 reclaimed water customers a month. Mulvihill said more residents have been requesting the service because of the extended drought. Reclaimed water is an attractive choice because it costs much less than potable water. For potable water, Oldsmar residents pay $8.20 a month for the first 2,000 gallons, $3.50 per 1,000 gallons more up to 15,000 gallons and $4.35 per 1,000 over that.

Reclaimed water costs $6 a month for the first 8,000 gallons and 75 cents per 1,000 gallons after that.

Residents of newer subdivisions in the city are more likely to get the service because their neighborhoods were built with reclaimed water transmission lines already underground. Some older sections of the city may have to wait years before they can get the service because the city would have to pay for the transmission lines.

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