Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Salt water intrusion of Port Richey wells could cost residents for years to come

Clean water has cost Port Richey up to $60,000 in the past month, a city official says.

Clean water has cost Port Richey up to $60,000 in the past month, a city official says.

PORT RICHEY — Residents' complaints over brown water have dried up, but dealing with the problem has been costly.

Last month, City Manager Tom O'Neill ordered four of the city's seven wells shut down amid an avalanche of complaints about tap water that looked like "iced tea." Tests showed three of the wells had elevated levels of iron and chloride due to saltwater intrusion, which O'Neill said he believes caused the brown water breakout.

The wells are now back on line, but O'Neill has drastically cut back their production and is filling the gap by drawing thousands of gallons a day from a connection with New Port Richey's water system. That has cost Port Richey between $50,000 and $60,000 over the past month, O'Neill said.

Port Richey never has produced enough water to meet the 800,000-gallon-a-day demand of its residents. In the past, the city purchased 10 to 20 percent of its water from New Port Richey. Since the brown water complaints came in, the city has bought about 33 percent of its water from New Port Richey.

That added cost has been the driving factor in putting Port Richey $100,000 over its budgeted amount for water purchases this year.

O'Neill said the increased costs are necessary to ensure clean drinking water. He also said some of the expenses will be offset by savings on water treatment costs not done while the wells were shut down and are now being operated at a diminished capacity.

"What we've done has improved the quality of the water in the city considerably," O'Neill said. "There have been some costs, but my job is to ensure that our residents can safely drink, bathe and cook with our water."

The increased costs may be a reality for Port Richey, as the salt water intrusion in the wells is not likely to improve. Last month, the city hired an engineer for a $9,800 study to look at the city's water operation. That review will be completed within in the next two weeks.

O'Neill said the most-needed part of the report will be advice on how much the three troubled wells can produce without seeing a spike in chloride and iron levels.

City Council member Terry Rowe said he wants to see a full report on the city's water issues as soon as possible.

"We are bleeding money," Rowe said at a recent City Council meeting.

With it likely that the city will have to buy more water from New Port Richey for the foreseeable future, O'Neill said a water rate increase will be needed. For months, the City Council has been debating a report by a consultant proposing a new rate structure. The study by Burton & Associates called for an overall increase of 3.5 percent each year over the next five years.

"It's critical that we get a new rate structure in place," O'Neill said.

Salt water intrusion of Port Richey wells could cost residents for years to come 04/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  2. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.

  4. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

     Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer (left) and son Edward Glazer celebrate the Bucs win and their upcoming trip to San Diego and the Super Bowl.  

[Bill Serne | Times]
  5. Baker fundraiser all about "Seamless City"


    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday