The following is a letter written to Gasparilla Island Water Association customers by the GIWA Board President Dave McHugh.
Our biggest challenge in 2012 was to relocate our facilities on the causeway ahead of the construction of the two new fixed bridges. This work is complete and our new water and sewer mains are in service.
While this work cost more than we originally estimated, the final cost totaling $1,201,500 was $1.1 million under the original bid (bid as a part of the bridge construction project). When we signed the contracts for the work, the cost was expected to total $1.475 million.
By completing a joint bore with FP&L and working closely with our utility contractors for cost saving measures, GIWA was able to reduce their anticipated costs an additional $275,000.
As approved by GIWA’s Membership at a special meeting called in April of 2012, the capital assessment to fund relocating our water and sewer mains on the causeway was raised to $20 per month. With these additional monies along with the aforementioned cost savings, GIWA has been able to pay for all of the pipe relocation costs to date using cash on hand.
Currently, we have not increased our debt for this project which has resulted in a savings to the membership in the form of interest expense.
Our final phase of this work includes relocating one water main at the swing bridge. The engineering contract for the design and permitting has been awarded to Johnson Engineering, Inc.
At this time, GIWA’s plans are at 90 percent complete and the permit application for the new underwater crossing has been submitted to Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Once GIBA’s new swing bridge design plans are completed to 100 percent in early 2013, GIWA’s plans will be finalized taking into account all roadway modifications. The final plans will be submitted with applications for two (2) additional required permits, and the bidding phase will begin.
GIWA plans to complete this work in May 2013 ahead of construction of the new swing bridge which is set to begin in July 2013. With this schedule, GIWA will most likely need to use short term financing and quickly retire the debt using the monthly assessment.
In an effort to ensure GIWA has sufficient quantity and quality of water well into the future, your board is currently planning for a future expansion to the water treatment facilities. The improvements will include two new deep wells north of the existing facility, which should provide better quality water, and modifications to the reverse osmosis plant that will increase production capabilities 194,000 gallons per day.
The initial estimates for this expansion are just coming in and your board will review the costs and financing options next year. This work will most likely be phased in over a several year period.
While the plant expansion will allow us to produce more water during peak times lessening our dependence upon purchased water from Charlotte County Utilities, our annual average water usage still must be reduced. Our water withdrawal permit issued last year requires us to reduce our daily average per person water usage from 176 gallons per day to 150 gallons by 2019.
Water usage this summer indicated that many outside irrigation systems where still running during wet rainy periods. Florida law now requires all automatic sprinkler systems be equipped with a working rain shutoff device that will override the system when sufficient rain has fallen.
This is an easy way to save not only one of our precious resources, but also money on your monthly water bill.
GIWA began replacing meters that are at least 10-years-old with “smart meters” this year. The new meters record water usage and the usage history can be downloaded to help determine the cause of high water usage. This has proven very helpful in identifying irrigation system malfunctions. Since these meters provide such valuable information, we are allowing members to upgrade to a “Smart Meter” early at a prorated cost. For most members the cost ranges from $12 to $104, dependent upon the age of the meter. Members with larger meters would pay a higher prorated cost.
GIWA is now utilizing an emergency communication network provided by CodeRed which will allow us to promptly notify our members of an emergency such as a precautionary boil water notice via telephone calls, texts and/or e-mail messages. The success of the notification depends upon our members signing up so their information is in the data base.
We recently had a leak in one neighborhood, but found that fewer than half of the residences were signed up to receive notifications. Please visit mygiwa.com and follow the link to “CodeRed” and sign up for this very important tool.
In closing the 2012 year, GIWA is on sound financial ground. In the next few years, the GIWA Board will need to continue to be proactive in planning for future water usage for its members. While the pipe relocation project has certainly been in the forefront, the GIWA continues to look forward and lay the ground work for future maintenance projects and upgrades to the water system.
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