Four years on, still few answers on water for PSJ

Water plan

Four years since the opening of a new $21 million water plant the city of Port St. Joe continues to be plagued by water quality issues.

Tim Croft
Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 09:26 AM.

Nearly four years to the month since the city of Port St. Joe cut the ribbon on a glistening new $21 million water plant answers to questions about water quality remain largely elusive.

And a preliminary report from the company that designed the plant offers little beyond general suggestions, lacking in specifics on achieving goals and offering no indication of the costs to the city for success.

Utility rates have risen more than 50 percent while the water distribution system has expanded to include nearly all the southern end of the county, from White City and Overstreet to Cape San Blas.

The city has received federal grants and state appropriations, but has still taken on millions of dollars in debt while constructing the new water plant, expanding the distribution system and the ongoing replacement of some 20 miles of aging pipe.

But as they discussed “staying the course” with a locked-in-by-ordinance 5 percent hike in utility rates come October, commissioners expressed frustration with upping the price on what Commissioner William Thursby characterized as a “tainted product.”

Port St. Joe resident Ann White seemed to speak for many when she asked commissioners whether there was “dead end in sight for this water problem.”

“The water was have now is not drinkable,” White said. “We pay a good price for it and then many of us go out and buy bottled water, so we are paying twice.

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