Polk Water Co-op To Borrow $23M For Deep Well Studies

The Polk Regional Water Cooperative will consider borrowing $23 million when it meets Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Lake Myrtle Complex in Auburndale.

The money will go for a variety of projects that will occur over the next four years to investigate plans to tap the Lower Floridan Aquifer as a possible alternative water supply now that water managers have admitted that we have finally reached the Upper Floridan Aquifer’s sustainable yield.

The cooperative is also scheduled to hire a consultant to implement the work. The top-ranked company is an entity known as Team 1. One of the principals is Robert Beltran, a Lakeland consultant and former executive director of the SWFWMD, according to the Winter Haven Sun.

Well sites are in southeast Polk and at the edge of the Green Swamp.

Some of the questions the research will address will include:

–What kind of water quality and how much treatment will be required to make it potable?

–How productive will be wells be to supply water needs?

–What is the best design for deep injection wells to get rid of the treatment waste?

–What is the best design for pipelines to route water from these remote well sites to public utility distribution systems?

–How will the project affect water rates?

The consultant will also hold a series of public meetings during the course of research.

Meanwhile, the Southwest Florida Water Management District has been drilling other exploratory wells in eastern Polk to gather more data on this portion of the aquifer.

In addition to the two well studies, work will also examine whether storing more water along the Peace Creek Canal can be used to justify increased water-use permits from Winter Haven for future growth based on claims of increased aquifer recharge.

This is the “Sapphire Necklace” project that was originally hyped as an environmental restoration project.

Used Tire, Hazardous Waste Collection Saturday

Keep Polk County Beautiful and Polk County Waste & Recycling will sponsor a free dropoff for used tires and household hazardous waste Saturday at Bartow High School from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Residents can drop off up to 24 tires. This will keep the tires out natural areas and other traditional dump sites. It will also reduce the mosquito breeding spots.

Household hazardous waste includes lawn and garden chemicals, automotive fluids, solvents, paint and other chemicals. Proper disposal of these materials will keep these chemicals out of groundwater.

There is also a dropoff site at the county landfill.

This event is also a good opportunity for residents to learn more about proper handling of wastes.

Swiftmud funding $6.7M in local water projects

The current $183.7 million Southwest Florida Water Management budget includes money for a long list of water supply and water quality projects within the area where our members live.

The bulk of the projects are in Polk County. The largest individual projects include a group of projects to extend reclaimed water lines in the Four Corners area around Interstate 4 and U.S. 27.

Other Polk projects include $100,000 for restoration work in the Crooked Lake West Area, $50,000 for restoration of the Audubon Saddle Creek property near Lakeland, $362,500 for a pair of projects proposed by Polk County and Haines City to study use of reclaimed water to recharge the aquifer to restore minimum levels and $1 million for ongoing efforts to restore Lake Gwyn in Wahneta.

Money is going to Desoto County for a pair of $120,000 projects to expand use of reclaimed water at the golf course and develop a watershed management plan in Arcadia.

Money is going to Highlands County for a hydrologic investigation of the Lake Jackson watershed ($53,882), a watershed management plan for Jack Creek ($150,000), Lake June-in-Winter watershed protection plan ($140,250) and a stormwater improvement plan for Lake Verona in Avon Park ($75,000).

Sumter County will get $160,000 for a watershed management plan for Little Jones Creek.

 

Panther Point Trail Reopens

The Panther Point Trail that runs from the Marshall Hampton Reserve south along the east side of Lake Hancock has reopened for public use.

It had been closed because of damage and high water following Hurricane Irma. Lake Hancock reportedly reached an historic high level of more than 102 feet above sea level.

Meanwhile, Circle B Bar Reserve remains closed because of high water and storm damage. It is tentatively scheduled to reopen the week of Oct. 16, but some of the trails are expected to remain closed because of high water.

Still closed with no reopening dates announced are Gator Creek Preserve, the Lake Weohyakapka boat ramp, Lake Arbuckle campground and boat ramp and Peace River Hammock.

 

Notes From Polk Planning Commission Meeting

Today’s Polk County Planning Commission meeting was as notable for what didn’t happen than for what did happen.

The commission agreed to continue the controversial BS Ranch soil plant management plan modification until Nov. 1. The facility on the outskirts of Lakeland has been criticized for generating odors even though owners claimed there would be no problems when its permit was approved last year.

An initial staff report raised questions about details of the plan BS’ consultants submitted.

Meanwhile, the County Commission is moving ahead with plans to remove the loophole in the solid waste ordinance that was written to accommodate BS Ranch to the commission’s regret.

Commissioners unanimously approved plans to expand the Bone Valley ATV Park west of Fort Meade. The addition is north of County Road 640.

Finally, commissioners split 4-2 over a controversial application to turn a 114-acre site at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Dunson Road for a 1.5 million-square-foot warehouse development after earlier plans to turn the land into a shopping center fell through during the recession and recovery.

The case will go to the County Commission for a final decision.

The heart of the debate is whether it’s a good idea to local industrial parks next to existing residential areas. Traditionally the ideal has been to put transitional land uses between residential and industrial development.

Additionally, there’s a question of whether major land-use changes should be approved simply because a landowner’s development plans didn’t work out.

Although there was testimony the owner has spent millions of dollars improving infrastructure to accommodate future development, omitted was mention that although the property has a market value of $8.3 million, its taxable value is only $53,568 because of its agricultural classification.

 

Complaints Reduce Recycling Cart Delay; What Plastic To Recycle?

It seems the Polk County Commission heard enough from their constituents to force Ana Wood, Polk’s waste and recycling director, to back off on her original plan to hold off delivery of additional recycling carts until next year for people who for a variety of reasons didn’t turn in a response card last March.

According to a press release that went out this week, anyone who doesn’t have a recycling cart and asks for one can get it by Nov. 1.

To get a cart—this applies only to residential customers in unincorporated Polk County—email polkwastewise@polk-county.net or call 863-284-4319.

Once you get a cart, you might be confused about what kinds of plastics to put or not put into it.

Below are two photos to help with that.

The top photo shows which kind of plastic container you should recycling under the new rules.

The bottom photo shows what kind of plastic containers you shouldn’t put in your cart.

Happy recycling.

 

 

 

Polk Recycling Policies Under Attack For Good Reasons

Well, the word has finally reached the County Commission that there are problems with the new, improved curbside recycling system that begins Monday, The Ledger reports.

People who either didn’t receive cards in March, misplaced them or weren’t even living here then have learned they won’t get recycling carts until sometime in January.

That was a policy decision dictated by Ana Wood, Polk’s director of waste and recycling.

Although she deserves a lot of credit for turning the operation around from days when staff was too cozy with Republic Services, her decisions on the recycling issue appear to be tin-eared and guided more by administrative convenience than anything else.

First she got rid of the dropoff center near her office, complaining that people were dumping non-recycable materials there and it was inconvenient for her staff to clean up the mess. Missing from the discussion is that the dropoff center was a public convenience, especially for properly disposing of recyclables such are large cardboard boxes that didn’t fit easily into recycling bins and won’t fit easily into the new carts, either. There’s no doubt that people dump other stuff at dropoff centers. They always have. The question, it seems, is whether it’s better to have it dumped near the landfill than along some roadside somewhere.

Second, she reduced the variety of plastic materials to be recycled to some milk jugs without ever clearly explaining why. Everything else in the local plastic waste stream goes to the landfill. Her justification is that China is cracking down on plastic loads, but all of the articles she cited discussed companies and countries that were lacing their plastic bales with radioactive waste, medical waste or chunks of concrete, not water bottles. She further argues that there is little real plastic recycling domestically and that main products for which recycled plastic is used are park benches and carpet, both of which eventually end up in the landfill so why bother.

Finally, she has been adamant about more fully informing the public about all of this. Other Florida counties post information guiding customers on what is and is not acceptable to recycle and why. She refuses to do so and reportedly has rebuffed attempts by the county’s communications staff to provide more customer-friendly messaging.

One more thing, Wood is absolutely right about glass. It has no market value and reduces the market value of everything else in the load.