BY LIZA STROUT - Among the topics discussed at the Gasparilla Island Water Association’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17 were the relocation of GIWA's mains with the construction of the new bridges on the Boca Grande Causeway, improvements that the water association is making to equipment, the annual audit, and the election of new board members.
The improvements include both a new communication network and new water meters. The new network allows GIWA to inform individual account holders when there is a problem with the water system. Alerts are available by phone, email, or text. Sign up is at mygiwa.com.
The new meters store information on water usage. They allow the water association to track patterns of water usage, and can help homeowners detect leaks and conserve water.
Information is stored in the meters for three months and must be accessed at the meters themselves. The new meters will be phased in over the usual 10-year replacement schedule, but members can have their meters replaced sooner at a prorated cost.
Bids for the replacement of water mains during bridge construction came in higher than expected when bundled with the GIBA package. The Water Authority then requested bids from local contractors. The low bid in that process was $1.3 million by Rusty Plumbing, Inc. of Sarasota. This was a $900,000 savings over the $2.2 million dollar bid from the earlier process. The contract has not yet been awarded, and GIWA plans to meet with the company to explore further savings next week.
Also discussed was the eventual replacement of the aging sewage station. Ongoing repairs are being made to keep the station in working order until 2018. At that point, many of the loans the Association currently has will be paid off, and they can apply for new funding. Also, the new bridges should be completed, reducing the cost of materials transportation.
Board President Leslie Diaz and Treasurer Renee Baker both ended their terms at the annual meeting. Mike Holmes, Robert Marini, and Tom Shaffer were elected to the board by popular acclaim.
The annual Auditors’ Report was also presented at the meeting. The audit by Suplee & Shea, P.A., gave an unqualified opinion that the Association is in a sound financial position with commendable internal operations and checks & balances.
It has also been announced that Buzz Mallott, an island resident, will be overseeing the utility replacement project on the Boca Grande Causeway when work begins.
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