(West Palm Beach, FL) – On February 13th, 2013 members of the Indian Trails Improvement District (ITID) voted down a proposal to partner with the City of West Palm Beach in order to provide a method for moving water out of the ITID system in the event of local flooding.
On February 21, 2013 the ITID released a statement regarding the decision that requires several clarifications.
In the public interest, below is a copy of the ITID statement with additional information interjected in red.
ITID President’s statement about vote against
West Palm Beach Pump Agreement
Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM
***2/21/2013 PRESS RELEASE***
Indian Trail Improvement District’s Board President
Comments on West Palm Beach Proposed Pump Agreement
The Acreage, West Palm Beach, FL., February 21, 2013. Indian Trail Improvement District (ITID) President of the Board Supervisors, Jennifer Hager, made a statement about her vote to reject the water pump proposed draft agreement with the City of West Palm Beach. The 3-2 vote to reject the draft agreement took place on February 13th, 2013.
Mrs. Hager stated, “We [the Board of Supervisors] held a workshop on February 6, 2013, and gave the City of West Palm Beach every opportunity to present their proposed draft agreement. However, the majority of our residents were against this one-sided proposal, which would have potentially locked us into a 30 year commitment to then provide large quantities of water to the City of West Palm Beach.[The proposal was supported and recommended by experts and staff at the ITID. It was supported and recommended by experts and staff at the city. It was supported by experts at the South Florida Water Management District. It gave ITID a new option to alleviate flooding in their service area if ITID decided to give the city the water, while also providing the City of West Palm Beach another possible source of water. The agreement would not have "locked" ITID into ANY commitment. The agreement allowed ITID to have 100% control over whether any water would be sent to the City of West Palm Beach at any time. If ITID decided to send water to the city, the amount of water sent would be 100% under the control of ITID.]
Also, the Acreage Landowner’s Association (ALA) studied and debated the proposal, and unanimously voted to recommend against it.
The pump is not a “storm water fix,” and would provide little help during a severe flood. [The agreement would have allowed approximately 40 million gallons per day to be removed from the ITID system.] The runoff would not meet drinking water quality standards, and by law the pumps would have to be shut down to prevent contaminating the City’s water supplies.
[During last year's severe flooding, water testing was conducted, and the water passed those tests. However, even if the water did not meet acceptable levels, the pumps would NOT be required to shut down. Regardless of the quality of the flood waters in the ITID system, the agreement would still allow the pumps to remove flood waters from the ITID system. The city would have the option of simply moving the water to sea.]
Also, if the City was also flooded, it is unlikely they would allow the pumps to operate and potentially endanger their own residents.
The City of West Palm Beach wants to take 6 billion gallons from our canals each year. That would impact us negatively in many ways. [Again, the agreement left 100% of the control over whether ANY water would be moved in the hands of the ITID. If ITID wanted to get rid of flood waters, the city would be able to take it. If ITID decided it wanted to keep the water, it would keep it.] The effect on our ground water, well water, and environment is unknown, and there has not been a study done for a pump of this size. Additionally, the fire department depends on our canals’ adequate water levels in order to protect our residents’ properties in the event of fires.
The City of West Palm Beach plans to increase by 33% in population by the year 2032, yet they have encountered severe water shortages in recent years. In 2011 the City violated their SFWMD permit by taking more water than was allotted resulting in an order to find new sources of water.
Residents feel the proposed draft agreement was a “water grab”, and that other viable options to provide additional drainage during a severe storm are available. [Again, the agreement would not permit anyone from "grabbing" ITID water. It would have given ITID another option to drain storm water from their system, IF THEY DECIDED TO DO SO.]
The numerous options need to be explored, including the option of using our own pumps. The planning for such solutions is on the immediate agenda and is being addressed at present. A comprehensive solution involving our neighboring stakeholders should be developed. Perhaps it is time the City of West Palm Beach considers a seawater desalinization plant, like the plant Tampa had to build in recent years. All options are being discussed and those feasible will be considered.