Lake Worth Beach plans to use infrastructure bill dollars to fund water quality improvements
Florida is expected to receive some $1.6 billion for water infrastructure over the next five years. Congresswoman Lois Frankel says it’s part of the trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill Congress passed in November.
Officials in Lake Worth Beach are eyeing two projects both priced at about $1 million: one would replace a filter system that could save the city 20 million gallons of water a year. The other would replace an 11-year old underground monitor well that is showing signs of age.
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During a press conference today at the facility, city officials say they’re also looking to improve stormwater quality.
“Our storm water runs directly into the Intracoastal [Waterway]. And we need some help with cleaning that water out before it goes in,” Mayor Betty Resch told WLRN. “We’re going to find many creative ways to ask for money from President Biden.”
Congresswoman Frankel explained how funding from the infrastructure bill will work with Lake Worth Beach's plans.
“It’ll go into some revolving funds that will allow these cities like Lake Worth and the counties around Florida to apply in order to improve their water quality and efficiency, and conservation,” Frankel said.
Many communities in Palm Beach County are seeing population growth and, with it, greater demand for water treatment. Lake Worth Beach’s facility serves just over 50,000 residents.
According to Brian Shields, Director of Water Utilities for Lake Worth Beach, tapping fundings from the federal infrastructure law would reduce the city’s existing funding source.
“Normally we borrow money, as most water utilities [do through] bonds, and borrow to take care of the capital needs,” said Shields. “We would do the same. This would reduce the amount that we would have to borrow from the banks.”
Shields shared more details with WLRN about the two water projects they hope to fund with the federal dollars:
On project 1:
"We currently have two projects here related to water treatment at the water plant. One of them is, of course, the backwash recovery basin. And what that does is we have a filter system that periodically gets backwash and that water currently goes to waste. So it's not recycled. So we intend on putting in a recycling base and pump that water back into the treatment plant and save us approximately 20 million gallons a year of water that otherwise would go to waste."
On project 2:
"The second is we have what's called the Duel Zone Monitor Well on our deep injection well. And we use reverse osmosis treatment here at the water plant. So that creates a concentrate of salt water that gets pumped about 3000 feet down into below ground. And so the purpose of a monitor well is to make sure that that water doesn't come back up and get into the underground source of drinking water. So the current well that we have, which is about 11 years old now, is starting to show signs of age. So we do need to replace it."