FOUNDERS PARK: WATER RE-USE
Founder’s Park, the Gem of Islamorada, is the coveted site of many events for children, family and adults, including concerts, benefits and the like. The fields that front U.S. 1 are in nearly constant use for soccer, baseball and lacrosse practices and games, kickball, softball and just for fun. Many a student has honed their skills at Founder Park fields.
Who pays for the watering system to keep the fields in pristine condition? Taxpayers and park users through a user fee. Was there ever an eco-friendly plan to use reclaimed water? Yes, and a transmission system was created, but the plan fell by the wayside when the Village opted not to create our own wastewater system with about four or five wastewater treatment sites, but to send our wastewater treatment to the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, according to our Acting Village Manager.
From a council communication dated Jan. 17, 2008, attached and here, we learn "Village staff completed the permit modification to utilize the reclaimed water from the North Plantation Wastewater Treatment." Staff determined the cause of various challenges to its plan, but in the end, re-use wasn't done because of the Village decision to send our wastewater treatment north.
Maria Bassett, acting village manager/finance director, said, My general understanding is that issues associated with saltwater intrusion, chlorine levels and insufficient water flow hindered operation of a system that was possibly constructed in 2006 and included in the contract with WPC to construct the North Planation Key portion of the system. The re-use system may have subsequently become operational but the Village opted to decommission the NPK treatment plant and convert it to a master pump station to transmit effluent to the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District for treatment. With this change, re-use/reclaimed water for field irrigation was no longer available."
Bassett shared the subject of reclaimed water to irrigate Founders Park was Finding No. 3 of the Auditor General (AG) Audit of 2011. Here is page 3 with information on Finding No. 3 from the Village’s Statements of Explanation in response to the AG’s findings.