Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water Vote Delay Residents Oppose Well

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Water Vote Delay Residents Oppose Well

Article excerpt

A citizens committee in Mandarin successfully got city officials to defer a planned Jan. 11 St. Johns River Water Management District vote that would officially permit a municipal water well that killed the pressure in hundreds of private wells there in April.

Monday's request by the 12-member Mandarin Water Advisory Committee forces the city to wait until February's St. Johns Water Management District board meeting in Palatka to replace a temporary permit with the final approval.

But committee members say the deferral gives them more time to review what kind of relief the proposed permit application offers residents whose private wells were damaged when the JEA fired up Well No. 5 on Orange Pickers Road April 30. That includes whether the JEA will continue to fix those wells if there is another city-related pressure loss.

"This committee should have an opportunity to review whatever JEA's position is before they go to water management," said member Curtis Archer. "We are trying to do our job to represent all these folks. . . . I don't think all of us should have to drive to Palatka for some meeting."

"Now we have a chance to find out even more," member Sharon Copeland added later.

JEA officials said copies of the mitigation plan were sent to members. And while water management officials at the meeting said nothing could be done to change the permit application now, JEA Community Outreach Coordinator Leigh Rassler said she learned Tuesday that there would be no problem deferring the vote a month.

"We felt that was a valid request and they would not have enough time to review it and meet and have any questions," she said. "I had to make sure the request could be granted and it was."

The JEA installed the latest well in the 2500 block of Orange Pickers Road eight months ago, the fifth drilled up to 1,000 feet deep into Florida's aquifer to improve Mandarin and the Southside's growing water needs. But when it was turned on in April, about 200 of the estimated 1,924 private well water users in Mandarin's 32223 ZIP code area west of San Jose Boulevard lost water pressure. All received new pumps or deeper wells from the JEA free. …

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