When it comes to keeping the water flowing, the Aqueduct Authority is on the job

Greg Veliz, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about water.

A recently precautionary suggestion to boil water was sent out by the FDA.

Veliz said, “We have mandates that are put in place for us to adhere to and by DEP and when there was that unfortunate automobile accident that occurred up the Keys and the power outage caused our pumps to fluctuate. When they did we happen to drop below the 20 psi threshold that’s put in place. Once that happens, we have to notify critical facilities, our schools, hospitals, anyone that serves food. It says it’s a precautionary boil water, we have no indication at that point that anything’s wrong. We’re just putting it out there that it could be prudent. Unfortunately, in an island this small and as things get around, of course, we didn’t notify every customer because we’re not mandated to and so then everyone worries about why they haven’t heard from us. So I think we’re going to start checking our processes, where we’re just going to put it out as a blast and if it pertains to you, great if it doesn’t pertain to you great. But that way it’ll cut down on the rumor mill somewhat.”

What are any upcoming projects for next year?

Veliz said, “I just got back from Tallahassee just before Thanksgiving. I went up there for the weekend, and had some really good meetings. We have every indication that we’re probably going to fare pretty well in this budget cycle. There’s a great deal of interest in there and the reverse osmosis plants that we’re putting now one in Stock Island and one in Marathon. The willingness to help us build them, I have found that pretty common in Tallahassee. So we’re going to keep moving, hopefully, we’ll get some more money towards that project. It’s moving along nicely. I think we’re now in design phase. So that’s moving really, really fast. We’ve got more probably capital projects going right now than we’ve had in years. Between Islamorada, the two ROs, plus the day to day operations that we do anyway. We’re finalizing some federal funding, low interest loans that we’re going to be looking into.”

Replacing the main line is one of the main focuses.

Veliz pointed out, “The five and 10 year plans are a little bit misleading because when you get the legislative appropriations and some of the federal monies that come out, they’re not until either the year prior to or in the year you’re currently in. So as additional funding comes in the door, that then adds to the end of the five year plan, because now you’re going to have more money left over. So I think the plan in and of itself, the way is designed, it will tend to decrease as we get into the out years. But as additional funding comes in the door, you’ll see that as you approach that upcoming year. It will increase along with it. So I think looking at a five year plan, the only reason it shows a reduction is because those funds haven’t been identified yet.”

There are also continuing needs in wastewater.

Veliz said, “Wastewater opens itself up to resiliency funding. That’s where the storm preparedness and flooding, wastewater doesn’t react well to flooding, because then waters intrudes into the system. So when you go out for resiliency dollars, it tends to lend itself to the wastewater side of the house. We’ve got legislative language out in front this year that will allow us to combine, which we’ve never been able to do before, combine the wastewater and water side when we go out for funding, which will put us in a far more advantageous position, then using them singularly. Using the proceeds from both.”

A number of agencies work together closely.

Veliz said, “The sheriff has been so helpful to us back when we experienced the leaks, just helping us get parts to the site. Never having been involved on the county level like that, the level of cooperation is impressive.”