A mechanical problem at one of the Palm Coast’s three water treatment plants Thursday caused the level of chlorine to spike, and shut down the plant.
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The new plant would be financed with a 20-year loan at less than 1 percent interest, and the city’s total debt load would rise to around $200 million. It also depends on steady growth in coming years.
For Palm Coast residents, the rate increase compounds steeper utility rate increases as the city raised its water and sewer rates 8 percent in April, another 4 percent in October, and will raise them again 4 percent next October. The typical combined annual price increase: $175.
Overeager to get going on a $2.6 million wellfield project during the boom years, Palm Coast never secured an agreement between a land company and FPL to power the wells. When talks broke down between the companies, Palm Coast decided to pay an extra $500,000 to power the wells with a different contractor, a cost it will pass down to rate-payers, even though the need for the water is non-existent.
The seawater desalination initiative Palm Coast led for the last three years held what amounted to an exit interview with the public as the project shuts down for lack of money, participants and, for now and several years to come, need.
The $213,000, left over from $1.7 million budgeted for desalination project’s latest phase, would keep a consultant working through quarterly meetings, and Palm Coast hoping to draft new partners for the now-defunct, $200 million project.
The break-in at the 500,000-gallon water tower was discovered Tuesday morning. City officials say they have no reason to think the water was compromised, but are conducting batteries of tests. Police is investigating.
The $200 million, Palm Coast-led desalination project is holding an open house and public comment period on the project’s location beginning at 6 p.m. at the Whitney Laboratory in Marineland on March 9.
Slower than before, but still expensively, Palm Coast continues to push desalination as its only alternative water source in the future.
The city is reducing its desal ambitions to a sixth the original size, but 1,000 gallons would cost five to six times more than current water.