No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Vandalism Blamed for Emptying Plantation Bay’s Water Supply, Leaving Customers Dry

| January 18, 2016

plantation bay utility

An approximation of the troubled and decrepit Plantation Bay utility, now owned and run by Flagler County Government. (NYPL)

Last Updated: 3:16 p.m.

Note: The boil water notice for the users of Flagler County’s Plantation Bay water system was rescinded on Thursday, Jan. 21.

It’s not as bad as Flint, Mich., and residents of Plantation Bay are not to about to get an emergency declaration for their water problems from President Obama, as Flint did on Saturday. But for the second time in three years, the Plantation Bay utility’s 1,600 customers, including businesses, woke up to no water Monday.

This time, vandals may be to blame.

“There’s water that comes out but it’s just dribbling out,” said Keith Brown of Dixie Commons Animal Hospital. He had to cancel all his grooming appointments for today, rescheduling them for Wednesday. He estimates a loss of $400 from those appointments alone. “This could have a long term effect on me which could be devastating to my business.”

Property owners at some point this morning got a note from Preferred Management Services, the whose clients include many homeowner associations: “Vandals got into the empty lots at Plantation Reserve and turned on all the water valves for all the empty lots which in turn emptied the holding tank for the entire Plantation Bay area. It is going to be at least 2 hours before your water service will be restored after which, there will be a 72 hour boil water advisory. Please share this information with your tenants if you rent out your townhome as well as your neighbors.”

The Plantation Bay utility has been a history of trouble for several years because of neglect when it was in the hands of Plantation Bay’s original developer, Mori Hosseini. That led to the utility’s acquisition by Bunnell and county government three years ago, for $5.5 million. Last year Flagler County took over Bunnell’s share. New problems emerged, which the county is now trying to solve. Bill Green, who had been Bunnell’s utility director, moved to the county to manage the operation. But Green took another job in Jacksonville two weeks ago.

This being Martin Luther King Day, property owners tried and failed to reach any officials to get word on their latest water woes: some voice-mail boxes were full and would not take messages while calls to county government went unanswered. The lack of response exposed another fault line in the county’s assurance to residents that county control of the utility would also mean better customer service. County Administrator Craig Coffey and Facilities Director Heidi Petito did not return calls to their cell phones Monday morning. A county spokesperson called on the administrator’s behalf in early afternoon (Coffey returned a call just after 4 p.m.).

Jim Troiano, a sheriff’s spokesman, said at mid-morning that no one had reported the alleged vandalism until a reporter’s inquiries, but that a deputy was on his way to investigate the case, and that a report on the incident would be filed later today. (That does not mean that county officials were not aware of the water problem several hours before Preferred Management’s notice went out to property owners.) Troiano later specified that some 20 water valves had been opened, with a loss estimated at of $2,500. Felony criminal mischief charges are pending against the miscreant. Troiano said there are no known surveillance cameras in the area of the crime, but that anyone with information should contact the sheriff’s office at 386-437-4116 or CrimeStoppers at 888-277-8477.

Just after noon, Kevin Guthrie, who heads the county’s emergency services operations, confirmed that the criminal mischief took place in an undeveloped part of Plantation Reserve, which has all the utility infrastructure in place but no houses yet. The valves were accessible from the street. But, Guthrie stressed, there was no criminal mischief or vandalism to the water plant itself. He said 400,000 gallons of water were released, necessitating the boil-water notice until at least Thursday at noon.

The county issued a release on the incident at 2:20 p.m., in which Petito is quoted as saying that “the boil water notice is precautionary, and is required any time the water pressure drops below a certain level.”

Residents were reporting water flowing again sometime after 10 a.m. But many have previously told county officials in public meetings that they don’t trust the water, and have their own stash of bottled water.

Others, among them Jane Gentile-Youd, say they‘ve always kept five gallons of water ready in case of weather emergencies. That water came in handy for Gentile-Yound this morning when, opening her faucet upstairs, “all I heard was a squish. Downstairs in the kitchen there was just a dribble.”

Brown at Dixie Commons Animal Hospital is more blunt. “I don’t know what’s in the water, I really don’t trust it,” he said.

As an isolated incident, the water loss today may not have overly concerned Plantation bay residents. But as the latest in an accumulation of problems, it left them livid, as their reactions on an online, invitation-only board for Plantation Bay residents indicated.

“This is an incredibly SERIOUS matter,” one property owner wrote. “There is absolutely no excuse for this happening…proper prevention/precautions were obviously not in place. It could have been disastrous has a fire occurred…wow.”

Another property owner was looking to attend the next county commission meeting “and ask why there were no locks on the water valves, ” she wrote. “Is there an alarm system anywhere and who will be responsible for picking up the tab for all the wasted water. That place must be flooded.” To another resident, “This water issue has finally reached rock bottom I think we should get the Governors office involved.”

Gentile-Youd, who started the thread, wrote: “This should never happen and I hope we work together to try our best to let the ‘powers in charge’ that we want every measure taken to prevent a re-[occurrence] and make sure that IF it does that the local fire department would be immediately notified and have water reserves in case of a fire in the district!”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

10 Responses for “Vandalism Blamed for Emptying Plantation Bay’s Water Supply, Leaving Customers Dry”

  1. confidential 2 says:

    I feel sorry for the people of Plantation Bay. Since Mr. Green was forced out of the city and the county treated him poorly the people of Flagler County lost an awesome utility specialist. The problems in Plantation Bay will continue until they put a lot of much needed money into that system. Their wells are horrible and their water treatment system is sub par. Better get working on grants. Or someone call Erin Brokovich.

  2. confidential says:

    Water supply left so open to vandalism? No locks on the valves..? hello? Where are Mr. Coffey’s proper and highly compensated administrative skills? What about installing some solar powered cameras, detection lights and alarms to monitor and document 24-7 all around such a vital and sensitive service equipment?

  3. Wishful Thinking says:

    If it were n’t for 21st century communication links and a truly amazing ‘get on it right away’ approach by the Editor of Flagler Live, as well as the unofficial but private community website, (which is private…) we might still be without water at 2:30 in the afternoon instead of 10:30 in the morning… Thank you Flaglerlive!!!!
    It is very disconcerting on the other hand that original early morning calls to Flagler County staff went to voicebox and even more scary that the Fire Station , as late as 945AM , hadn’t a clue there was no water thus no hydrant water in case of fire… This to me is beyond inexcusable, holiday or not, someone’s home (s) or businesses could have burned to the ground during that time.
    Losing Bill Green is another unfortunate occurrance. He will be missed by many of us . He was extraordinary. Whadda we gonna get now I wonder?

  4. Dave says:

    Why would Flagler County ( City of Bunnell ) take over a water system in volusia county,. I was trying to understand some history on this.

    Sounds like that water system has been messed up for years.

  5. John F. Pollinger says:

    Hey FlaglerLive, that picture you used is probably more accurate than you think and secondly, the county doesn’t have to worry too much about the boil water alert. No one in their right mind is drinking it anyway.

  6. Frank says:

    Not surprising at all. Plantation Estates developers have screwed lots of people. Karma is a bitch! I hope they are held accountable for this. They had a duty to protect those valves and decided not to put locks on them. They are too busy trying to sell overpriced houses!

  7. Helen Perlman Siegel says:

    I am not counting on ever getting the “real” story.

  8. Old Sarge says:

    That’s not really how water to the hydrants works…you would have still had water service as far as hydrants are concerned unless there was a catastrophic event that destroyed the underground lines, as well as the lines that allow assistance from neighboring counties. The point being, your fire protection would not have been interrupted

  9. Derrick R says:

    However you may feelbabout him but to try and place blame or include Coffey for a crimminal act that occurred on Private Property is wrong. Instead let’s try to focus on the current property management to secure the access to thwart future events. That said, now one must focus on this crime and while everyone might be a suspect odds are they would have some ties to the location. Either a homeowner who doesn’t want neighbors or the the most likley a misguided youth of one who knows the area and could move about in the dark.

  10. layla says:

    Nobody elect Mr. Coffey to his own private fiefdom, I believe he renews his own contract. If you are tired of practices such as this, you are going to have to show up and vote. If you can’t be bothered, then order in a huge supply of bottled water.

    No wonder nobody wants to move here anymore.

Leave a Reply

FlaglerLive's forum, as noted in our comment policy, is for debate and conversation that adds light and perspective to articles. Please be courteous, don't attack fellow-commenters or make personal attacks against individuals in stories, and try to stick to the subject. All comments are moderated.

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive

FlaglerLive Email Alerts

Enter your email address to get alerts.


support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida

Recent Comments

FlaglerLive is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization | P.O. Box 254263, Palm Coast, FL 32135 | Contact the Editor by email | (386) 586-0257 | Sitemap | Log in