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Dunedin seeks lasting fix for Honeymoon Island's water supply

DUNEDIN — Now that Honeymoon Island's water supply is back to flowing normally, city officials have begun to prepare for the next phases of work: replacing the relief line with a permanent fix and finding what went wrong.

The island's boil-water notice was lifted Sunday afternoon after 2,200 feet of pipeline was connected, disinfected, tested and brought online, said City Manager Rob DiSpirito. Full water pressure at the island's expansive condo complex, Royal Stewart Arms, was restored more than a week after the 20-inch water main connecting the complex to the mainland was struck by crews working on the Dunedin Causeway.

The relief main, sunk about 14 feet deep to the floor of the Intracoastal Waterway, took much of last week to install due to two days of heavy winds and choppy waves, said water division director Paul Stanek.

"We were having to fight with Mother Nature," Stanek told city commissioners. "She was the one person that wasn't invited to our construction meeting."

Yet it will pump water to the island only until two permanent pipes can be installed, a process that could take between three to six months, Stanek said.

This week, crews will test whether the damaged pipeline could be used as an outer sleeve for a smaller pipe fed inside, Stanek said. Paired with a second underwater pipe, the two lines would help protect the island's water supply from any future accidents.

Public works director Douglas Hutchens said that the temporary pipe, the condos' temporary water supplies, buoys in the waterway and contracted labor have cost up to $300,000, with more work on the way. He told commissioners the total repairs could cost about $750,000.

City officials have also begun to investigate who provided the inaccurate map to the city that charted the island's water main 200 feet from where it actually was, DiSpirito said. Contractors, designers and consultants could have provided the faulty records to the city more than a decade ago, though no one has said for certain who they think may be to blame.

"We don't know if it was just a mistake or misinformation or misrepresentation — in other words, if the contractor or consultant misrepresented what was done in the field," Hutchens said. "We're working through that. It hasn't been our highest priority, because the emergency was getting water to the island."

By Tuesday, the water tanker, fire engine, shower trailers and portable restrooms had been removed from the complex's parking lot, where they sat for about a week.

Gail Appleton, who lives on the fifth floor of the complex's Elgin high-rise, said she and her husband eased the taps on slowly when they learned the island was back to normal. For the last week, she had boiled her water whenever she needed to wash dishes, though she stayed away from the portable bathrooms.

"We were very happy when it was all running smoothly," Appleton said. "Everybody's got a smile on their face."

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Dunedin seeks lasting fix for Honeymoon Island's water supply 02/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 7:25pm]
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