News / Events

Sides team up to meet Titusville's water need

WRITTEN BY DAVE BERMAN, FLORIDA TODAY

February 12, 2011

Titusville officials and a major landowner marked a significant milestone Friday in an unusual collaboration to provide a new water resource for residents.

The $10 million Area IV Wellfield project also could be a water source for a large proposed business and residential development in north Brevard County that could include more than 2,300 homes and a business complex.

The city of Titusville and Farmton Water Resources, through a joint venture called TIFA LLC, are developing the wellfield. Their
venture ended lengthy litigation related to Titusville's right to use the water.

"Basically, nobody wins in litigation," Titusville City Manager Mark Ryan said.

Instead, the city and Farmton now are working together on the project, which eventually will be able to provide up to 2.75 million gallons of water a day.

Farmton's Chicago-based parent company, Miami Corp., an investment company with a range of business interests, also hopes to develop housing and commercial projects west of Interstate 95's Scottsmoor exit.

Glenn Storch, an attorney for Miami Corp., said the company has received approval from the Brevard County Commission and state development regulators for its project. The development eventually could include a 1.25 million-square-foot economic-development center of commercial and industrial projects, as well as up to 2,306 units of single- and multifamily housing.

Storch said the industrial and commercial development piece of project would create jobs for residents of the Mims and Scottsmoor area. No businesses have been lined up yet for the site.

The projects would be on about 2,000 acres of an 11,500-acre parcel the company owns in North Brevard, with the remaining acreage set aside as a conservation area. Under its agreements with the state and county, Farmton has approval to begin such infrastructure as roads and sewers, but cannot work on the industrial, commercial or residential projects themselves for five years.

The first phase of the Area IV Wellfield project, though, is nearing completion.

Titusville's water customers currently use an average of 4 million gallons a day, which the city gets primarily from other wellfields it operates. It also buys an average of 600,000 gallons a day from Cocoa's water department.

The Area IV Wellfield will reduce Titusville's dependence on these other sources, according to city's water resources director, Raynetta Curry Marshall.

Friday's celebration was held at the Farmton Tree Farm in the south Volusia County community of Maytown. It commemorated the end of construction of a 13-mile-long, Titusville-funded pipeline that will transmit the water from the wellfield in rural northwest Brevard to Titusville's Mourning Dove Water Treatment Plant on Garden Street. Federal stimulus funding helped Titusville pay for the pipeline project.

Now, the wells themselves will be drilled, and, by summer, the first phase of the system will be turned on.

Storch said the project "will allow water production for the Titusville region for decades to come."

"I'm thrilled," Titusville Mayor Jim Tulley said during the celebration. "This is a party day."

Titusvilleand Farmton officials credited Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher with bringing the two sides together to work out a partnership, instead continuing to litigate the issue.

Fisher, who represents North Brevard, called the venture "a good example of public-private partnership."

"It's the right thing to do for Titusville, it's the right thing to do for Farmton and it's the right thing to do for our kids," Fisher said. "It's worked out for the good of everybody."

Curry Marshall said the total cost of the project was estimated five years ago at more than $20 million.

But contractors eager to work on the project bid lower than the city expected, and the total project cost now is about $10 million.

Wellfield project costs are being split equally between Titusville and Farmton.

Curry Marshall said she hopes the new water supply will help her department stabilize rates to customers. Titusville's water customers received a 9 percent increase in water rates and a 3 percent increase in sewer rates for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. That was on top of a 9 percent increase in water rates and a 7 percent increase in sewer rates that took effect in October 2009.

The Titusville Water Resources Department has about 21,000 business and residential customer accounts in Titusville and pockets of outlying areas.

Contact Berman at 321-360-1016 or dberman@floridatoday.com

 


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