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RO for brackish water to serve 26,000 customers in South Florida


September 18 2005

Palm Beach County Water Utilities and the South Florida Water Management District broke ground for a $44 million water treatment plant in Belle Glade.

It will serve 26,000 customers in Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay who draw their drinking water from Lake Okeechobee. 

It is scheduled to begin operations July 2008.

The reverse osmosis treatment will draw and process water from the brackish Floridan Aquifer deep below South Florida. 

The economically depressed sugar-growing towns, struggling with serious debt, can not afford to bujild the system on their own.

The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department will build and operate the plant, which is designed to produce 10 million gallons of water a day. It will sell that water at "very close to cost" to the three cities, said Leisha Pica, deputy director of county water utilities.

The county has raised about $21 million in grant money, some from contributors such as the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Legislature. 

Lake Okeechobee has not been a reliable well because of the pollution pouring into it and the way it has been managed, officials said. "We've been using it as a septic tank for too long," Sasser said.

More information can be had from Neil Santaniello: nsantaniello@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6625.