Polk County’s Local Governments No Longer Need to Go It Alone
How to meet the water needs of a growing region when your main water source is reaching its limits? That’s the challenge facing Polk County.
Developing new water supplies is costly and can be especially difficult for smaller communities. It makes sense for the various local governments in the county to work together, share the cost and ensure a water supply for future generations. That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) urged local leaders to work together to plan for the region’s future water needs.
In 2016, the county and its local governments formed the Polk Regional Water Cooperative (PRWC) to proactively identify alternative water resources and projects that ensure the future sustainability of the regional water supply. This historic action of joining together elected officials from 16 governments, consisting of 15 cities and Polk County, garnered praise from state leaders and policy makers.
The District initially committed $40 million toward helping the organization form and begin the process of identifying potential supplies. Through its research and collaboration, the cooperative has pinpointed three potential alternative water supply projects.
The District’s Governing Board voted at its April meeting to approve a resolution for future funding of the PRWC alternative water supply projects, committing an additional $25 million, or $5 million a year, over the next five years. The District’s funding will assist in completing projects that can provide an additional 30 million gallons of potable water per day in Polk County.
These are the three ongoing alternative water supply projects being evaluated for future development:
Southeast Wellfield project: This project is a Lower Floridan aquifer production test well study, including the conceptual designs of a wellfield, the associated treatment facility and the regional transmission system in southeastern Polk County.
West Polk County Lower Aquifer Deep Wells project: This project is a Lower Floridan aquifer production test well study, including conceptual designs of a wellfield, the associated treatment facility and the regional transmission system in northwest Polk County.
Peace Creek Integrated Water Supply project: This project is a feasibility study focusing on the determination of options to increase alternative water supplies in central Polk County.
The District’s funding commitment will be based on milestones that must be met through fiscal year (FY) 2023. The financial support to these projects is the next step in this groundbreaking effort to create a new regional model for water resource development in Polk County.
Brian J. Armstrong, P.G.
Southwest Florida Water Management District