Garden District May Get Reclaimed Water

FishHawk Ranch District West resident Nick Barron, left, talks to his neighbors during a recent meeting in hopes of encouraging them to take advantage of the chance for reclaimed water installation within the community. Those interested have until the end of the month to submit their petitions.

FishHawk Ranch residents living within the boundaries of Dorman Rd., FishHawk Crossing Blvd. and Parkset Dr., an area considered Garden District West, have until Tuesday, June 26, to submit their petitions for a now-or-never chance of getting approval for reclaimed water installation.

What began as an informal conversation between neighbors a little more than two years ago is now a full-fledged project in its final stage of approval, thanks to the hard work of those who decided to pursue what they believe to benefit them and their community.

“We are currently in the last phase of getting approval of the project,” said neighborhood volunteer and project coordinator Nick Barron, who started gathering facts about the reclaimed water project with the help of his neighbor Bill Majorana, as well as sending the first petition to the HOA, who in turn sent the project to the county.

The estimated high end cost of the project is $1.05 million, covering the necessary installation of distribution lines. The cost for unlimited use of reclaimed water is $9 per month as well as a onetime estimated hook up fee of $385. The estimated prepayment amount per parcel is $5,927, or, if this amount is not paid in advance, the sum will be amortized at 6.2 percent interest over an estimated 30 year period for approximately $440 annually per parcel. According to Barron’s calculations (12 x $75 = $900), this is a very reasonable investment.

“The water bill savings more than pay for the $440 cost using an average savings of $75 per month,” Barron said.
To answer questions pertaining to the project’s cost, safety and benefits, Garden District ambassador JB Frank Shearrow, organized a meeting last month, held at the Park Square fountain. 

“We believe that the benefits of reclaimed water vastly outweigh the initial costs and will serve as a wise community decision,” Shearrow said following the meeting. “People are asking smart, informed questions, which shows that they are not taking this lightly. They are rather enthusiastic about the prospect of having water that is not metered.”

The real challenge is getting the word out to 200-plus households and, according to Barron, the neighborhood has only one chance for approval to create a non-ad valorem taxing district to construct the infrastructure to distribute reclaimed water.

“This is most likely a now or never opportunity because of capacity and pressure issues,” Barron said. “If the Garden District passes on this opportunity, it would probably be offered to Ternwood, but there is not enough capacity available for both.”

While some were digesting the financial impact of the project, others were most concerned about the safety, and physical effects of using reclaimed water on their lawn.

To put them at ease, Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department Utility Support Division Director, Bart Weiss said that while reclaimed water is not as high quality as drinking water, residents have no reason to worry about its safety.

“The bottom line is that reclaimed water is very safe,” Weiss said, adding that Hillsborough County boast of having the highest quality reclaimed water, while Florida is the largest user of it in the country.

If things go as planned, according to County project manager Troy MacDonald, work could began by early next year and would take approximately 18-24 months.

Resident shave a chance to understand more about reclaimed water by visiting www.hillsboroughcounty.org/water, then clicking onto Reclaimed Water/FAQ, which addresses topics of safety, benefits and watering restrictions.

For more questions about the project, residents may call Barron at 777-7027.