System BasicsThe City water system includes an elevated storage tank at the Eagle Ridge Mall and four well plants at the following locations;
- Downtown on Market Street at Sessoms Ave.
- South of SR 60, on Marietta Ave. at Grove Ave.
- Adjacent to the campus of Lake Wales High School, off of Burns Ave.
- At the airport, on SR 60 West
Water QualityTo ensure water quality, the City technicians take water samples monthly from points throughout the system according to the sampling plan approved by the Polk County Health Department. The samples are taken to an independent, certified laboratory for testing. The City water system must comply with strict regulations from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Every year, per state regulations, the City mails a report on water quality to each resident. The most recent report is being mailed this month and is also available for review on the City’s website, www.cityoflakewales.com.
Water SupplyEvery day the City water plants pump over 3 million gallons of water from a deep groundwater aquifer called the Floridan aquifer. The amount of water pumped is regulated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). Recently SWFWMD awarded the City a slight increase in the amount allowed, and the total available is now set at 3,821,000 gallons. The City is seeking to increase this number and is working on a permit modification.
Looking ahead, after 2013 all increases in water use must come from sources other than the aquifer. The cities and Polk County are studying what those sources could be, including the use of surface waters – lake water, and water from Kissimmee River. Any such project will involve great expense to treat the water, as well as to convey it to where it will be used.
In the meantime, the City is following other suggestions from SWFWMD to allow more water supply for growth by encouraging conservation – such as designing a water rate structure that charges more per gallon of water for high users. This rate structure has been put in place.
Another project that SWFWMD has partnered with the City on is the establishment of a re-use system. Re-use water is treated wastewater that is made available for irrigation. The water is not of drinking water quality, but it is safe to use for irrigation. The more that re-use water is used, the less drinking water pumped from the ground will be used for this purpose. Re-use water is now being used for irrigation in the city cemetery, the Longleaf Business Park, and the new sports complex on Hunt Brothers Road. It will soon be available in the Whispering Ridge subdivision, the first residential area to receive re-use. The City Commission has designated that new subdivisions south of SR 60 will have re-use water, and the developer of Whispering Ridge has installed the “purple pipes” to convey this water throughout the subdivision.
Water ProjectsThe City is working on a number of major water projects, including:
- New Elevated Water Storage Tank: This tank will be constructed near the intersection of Scenic Highway and Hunt Brothers Road. It will hold 500,000 gallons of water, which is similar to the City’s elevated tank at the Eagle Ridge Mall. Funding is through the CRA bond.
- Downtown Water Improvements: These improvements will be done in two phases: Phase 1 will bring a new water main out of the Market Street Plant to serve the west end of downtown with better water volume and pressure for fire flow. CRA funds will be used for this project. Phase 2 will serve the east side of downtown, and City staff anticipates that CDBG funding will be sought for this project.