"An equal opportunity
Good Government Needs Good Partnerships
By Commissioner Jeff Koons
County government does not function in a vacuum. In order to provide high-quality services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers, we need the assistance and cooperation of other governing entities, be they state or federal agencies, local municipalities or special taxing districts.
One of the top goals of the Board of County Commissioners is the restoration and preservation of our delicate ecosystem. And I am especially grateful for the excellent working relationship Palm Beach County has established with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to help us meet this goal. Thanks to the efforts of Chairman Kevin McCarty and the SFWMD Board of Governors, this state regulatory agency has made an enormous commitment to improving water quality, stormwater storage capacity, environmental restoration and water reclamation in this county. This year’s list of projects is staggering – 64 separately-funded projects associated with the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, coastal watersheds and regional water supply totaling more than a quarter-billion dollars.
The SFWMD Board of Governors has been one of our most vocal allies in getting funding for the Lake Region Water Treatment Plant. To date, the district has promised $4 million from its own budget and continues to lobby state lawmakers on our behalf for more money.
Earlier this year, we began a joint project with SFWMD to clear out accumulated sediment from the C-51 Canal. So far, some 1,700 truckloads (more than 46,000 cubic yards) of dredged material have been hauled away from the staging site near the West Palm Beach Municipal Golf Course. Not only will this increase capacity in the canal and greatly improve water quality discharging into the Lake Worth Lagoon, the sludge is being used as topsoil fill at the Winding Waters Natural Area and for various FDOT road construction projects -- a true win-win-win arrangement.
In October, we announced that the County’s Water Utilities Department had begun construction on a three-million-gallon-per-day reclaimed water facility at Century Village. The SFWMD awarded us a $1-million grant, 20 percent of the estimated $5 million construction cost. Reclaimed water is recycled water that has been treated, filtered and disinfected. While not suitable for drinking, it works very well for landscaping and farm irrigation. It’s cheaper to produce and helps conserve our drinking water supply.
These are just a few examples of how Palm Beach County and the South Florida Water Management District are working together to restore and safeguard the environment and protect one of our most precious resources. As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me or my staff at 355-2202.
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