County Water/Sewage Bills to Increase

Staff Report
BRADENTON — At a work session Tuesday, Manatee County Commissioners were presented with recommendations from the county's utility consultant regarding water and sewage rates. Despite a reluctance by most board members to raise rates, needed infrastructure reinvestment will likely mean significant monthly increases.

Tuesday's session suggested that water will continue to be a major fiscal challenge for the county in the years ahead. Growth is causing demand for water to increase by about 2 percent each year and 38 percent of existing infrastructure is 30 years old or older, requiring significant reinvestment. 

On Dec. 29, a leak was discovered on one of the major pipes leaving the Braden River treatment plant, a 42-inch diameter transmission line installed in the 90s. Repairs are underway, however, the incident signaled a need to prepare for more replacements of older lines.

Internal erosion issues at the Lake Manatee Dam, which led to an emergency repair in 2014, necessitated a future "phase 2" series of repairs that include an upcoming replacement of the dam's spillway that will cost around $20 million. However, there are several other much more expensive infrastructure projects in the county's capital improvement plan.

The upcoming Buffalo Creek reverse osmosis water treatment plant adds another $91 million, the southwest and north water reclamation facilities will add $345 million while existing and new lift stations will add another $72 million to the department's financial plan within the CIP, the total funding for which is projected at $1.3 billion.

Consultants pointed out that Manatee County's rates are well below those of surrounding communities (see graph below) and are recommending total adjustment increases of 9.75% (around $11 a month on average) each year over a five-year period. This would take an average household bill for 6,000 gallons from its current $78.40 to $124.84 in the final year of the phase-in. About 40 percent of the increases are related to operating cost increases and 60 percent are related to capital reinvestment.

While the work session was also advertised as a special meeting, in case a vote was to be taken, commissioners did not take any action on Tuesday, and the item will be brought back for a vote at a future date, to be announced. Watch the video portion of the meeting below.

Reader Comments
Barbara Angelucci
JAN 20, 2023  •  You all are missing the elephant in the room. SWFWMD has granted Mosaic a mega water permit to draw a minimum of 69.9 million gallons of water a day to a maximum of 87 million gallons a day. This permit runs to 2032. The Commissioners approves Mosaic mining projects and these projects are water dependent. It all goes back to the Commissioners who are in bed with developers and Mosaic.
JAN 19, 2023  •  Scott Hopeless absolutely needs to go- how much more can the citizens of Manatee County overlook? While his new Com-minions are drunk driving- stealing admittedly beautiful plants, stealing vaccines for their private VIPs, having affairs- and while he is terminating long term employees to obtain budget for extra deputies- including a former- No not even a former sex offender- Hopes has covered up a sexual harassment complaint- swept it under the rug- made it go away- complicated the case - made it so tangled we get sick of untangling and forget it- for a friend- at the expense of the people he asks to come to work every day…. Yes- asking an employee to return to a job that didn’t take her complaint as seriously as he took his friendship with the alleged offender…. And now Mr Hopeless is making Lt. Nicholas Pruitt appear incompetent of doing his job and clearing cheating drunk Georgie of DUI- Now water and trash increase- As the county is bulldozed…. How about that monument…. If this county has any HOPE for the future, we need to be HOPELESS.
Angele Hanson
JAN 19, 2023  •  WOW the city residents have always paid more for water and trash collection. There are 2 in my home no pool no watering our lawn, no extras and our bill is about 100.00 a month and we pay for any extra large trash pickup. I have neighbors who have a pool and water their lawn (no well) that live in the county that barely pay 50.00 a month so fair is fair.
JAN 19, 2023  •  Republicans are raising prices to keep low income people of color and low income citizens out of this county. Rent rates are already through the roof, inflation is out of control, gas prices are rising. What a mess
JAN 18, 2023  •  There is a water supply EMERGENCY at the Manatee County Water Plant on Waterline Road and Dam Road by Lake Manatee in the east County. It started around Dec. 29, 2022. The true nature of this emergency is being under-reported in the local press. The emergency was partially covered by the East County Observer Jan. 10, and Bradenton Herald Dec. 31 & Jan. 3, but reporting was short on details. This water plant serves most of the county west of the urban boundary. Three main water transmission lines come from the plant. They are older type concrete pipes from the 1970s and are obsolete, brittle and prone to failure. They are large at 3.5 feet in diameter and are typical of more than 12 miles of pipe at the head of the county water supply. The present emergency is with the pipe running from Waterline Road north across the Manatee River by Rye Road. This emergency is not expected to be repaired until sometime in February at the earliest. The repair crews have equipment working around the clock on Waterline Road. They are loud and are not in compliance with the county sound ordinances due to the machinery and emergency pumps operating full capacity past 11PM. The noise has been a detriment to the area farm animals and wildlife, and to the campers at the near-by State Park. The nature of emergency work is that it runs the risk of additional failures and water interruptions. Of course, the repairs need to be done no matter what. However, the County needs to be more proactive and less reactive with our infrastructure. Two of the large water transmission lines run west under Waterline Road. These are also obsolete and run under an old country road that is substandard and does not comply with minimum county road requirements. Since the county commissioners are approving so much over-development on and around Waterline Road, the county has designated Waterline Road as an “urban collector.” The road is less than 18 feet wide with no shoulders or sidewalks- only ditches on either side. It barely qualifies as an old service road. The over-development being approved to the north and south of Waterline Road are destroying the natural wetlands in the area. Just look at the huge and deep drainage pits dug between Uihlein Road and Bourneside Blvd. on the south side of SR64. The destruction of the wetlands has already made the flooding in the area worst. It is only a mater of time before the flooding and excessive traffic loading undermine Waterline Road and fractures the other two old main water transmission lines. It’s probable that the recent area flooding due to over-development is the cause of the present water emergency.
JAN 18, 2023  •  The water supply and service for Manatee County will get much worse before it gets better. The overdevelopment and population explosion of the area has not been planned for properly. This neglect by our BoCC goes back many years. The BoCC has been approving zoning changes and comprehensive development plan amendments without an honest assessment of the water supply distribution system. The solid waste and water systems are already overloaded and will be worst once the additional 50,000+ houses come on-line. The BoCC has an obligation to consider the appropriate timing and readiness of the county systems before approving rezoning for more development. This is not being done and has not been done for a while.
JAN 18, 2023  •  MAGATS being MAGATS u voted for them .. now pay up
JAN 18, 2023  •  They really put to fix what we have and work on the water quality issues through the County by putting in chlorination injector wells on the furthest ends of the current system first. We need to maintain what we have. Any new systems need to be funded by the developers. Funny how small developers and individuals get charged higher impact fees than the big developers who get lower rates because they own the commission. Time to get back to sustainability and the basics as a priority and let new developers pay their way.
David Daniels
JAN 18, 2023  •  Comments on these various County commission related articles mistakenly claim that "we" deserve the MAGA, unethical bad county leadership because "we" voted for them. I remind all that, except for one (Ballard), our commissioners were chosen by only 44% of registered county voters - Republicans. 56% of county voters could not vote because there was no strong independent candidate. That needs to change.
JAN 18, 2023  •  Developers sure get the long end of the stick while we get the short one. Why do we pay over $1000/yr for 20-30 years in CDD fees PER HOUSE? "A CDD fee, or a Community Development District fee, covers the costs of having new roads, road repairs, school buildings constructed and repaired. CDD Fees also pay for the maintenance of roads, sewers, community pools and sports courts, parks, and sidewalks." Community as in our development or the town in which it is? If it's our development, why do we also have HOA fees?
JAN 18, 2023  •  Why not allot TDC $$ towards this since the commission keeps withholding it from the island cities? All the tourists here as well as the over development wear on our infrastructure
What He Said
JAN 18, 2023  •  "To fund future growth"- Scott Hopes (at 7:11:51 meeting video)
The Truth
JAN 18, 2023  •  Let’s talk about sewage. Vanessa Covid Selling Baugh and George Drunkard Kruse. Two self serving #[email protected] that don’t give a damn about citizens. Baugh’s ethics are zero. Kruse - plead guilty and be an example, not a coward hiding behind procedure. Sewage is the BOCC
Karene Maxwell
JAN 18, 2023  •  So the residents living in the City proper are NOT included in this increase of fees? Water/Sewer/Waste (and recycle-recycle which has been discontinued)?
JAN 18, 2023  •  So new development is NOT going to pay for infrastructure improvements!? What a joke on current residents!
JAN 18, 2023  •  Simple, raise the impact fees to 100% like it should have been all along
JAN 18, 2023  •  Raise the taxes and fees on the commissioners boytoys, Beruff and Benderson amd the rest of the developers. Then vote out these bought and paid for pieces of 💩
JAN 18, 2023  •  Well done Manatee County deserves no better. You voted these people in. Hopes four secretaries, several deputy administrators, all the lawsuits, yep you are paying for it now. You get the government you deserve and voted for.
Cat L
JAN 18, 2023  •  Curious to know if the infrastructure money from the Fed is being used appropriately in Florida, or is the governor doing what he did with the money for renters affected by the pandemic and holding it back to reallocate elsewhere. It seems like this would be something that should have that funding. So far the only thing I've seen that money applied to is a park in Sarasota, which doesn't seem to be all that helpful.
Jon M
JAN 18, 2023  •  Keep letting the DEVELOPERS build you bought and paid for CLOWNS.!! Make the Crooked developers pay for it!!