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Reclaimed water to green Gulfport

Published Sep. 13, 2005

(ran Beach edition)

With help from a Swiftmud grant of $405,000, the city is pursuing its first reclaimed water system.

The proposed project, estimated to cost about $1.5-million, would pipe treated wastewater through 17,000 feet of pipelines to Town Shores and the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club.

Gulfport, which already is a water and sewer customer of St. Petersburg, has asked that city about tapping into its reclaimed system.

Bill Johnson, St. Petersburg's director of public works, said he is about a week away from responding to Gulfport about its request. "I would expect it (the cost) to be about 25 cents per 1,000 gallons," Johnson said. Lee said "he had no idea of the cost" to users at this time.

Paul Williams, Gulfport's public works director, said residents were asked by questionnaire in September 1996 if they wanted reclaimed water. Of 722 responses, 564 said no.

From Pasadena Yacht and Country Club and Town Shores, however, 143 of 171 respondents said yes. "Those are the people, because of the overwhelming population who said yes, those are the people we are working with (to get reclaimed water)," Williams said.

Lee said the Town Shore and Pasadena Yacht and Country Club users would pay for the hookup fees and for the reclaimed water.

The hookup cost and sharing of the project's expense will depend, Lee said, on whether reclaimed water use becomes voluntary or mandatory for residents.

In a voluntary arrangement, users probably would be fewer, and would pay more. In a mandatory arrangement, user numbers would peak, and costs would be lower.

Lee said residents will help the council determine the plan.

In other business Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment it said would properly protect, promote and maintain the city's trees.

Mike Konefal, Gulfport's planning and development supervisor, said the ordinance calls for a tree to be planted on a one-for-one basis if the city okays a tree removal. The replacement tree must be a minimum of 2 inches wide and 8 feet high.

Trees to be removed also would have to be a minimum of 8 inches in diameter at a point 4{ feet above the ground. The current minimum diameter is 4 inches.

Konefal said that if the tree is dead, is an undesired species, is in danger of falling, is crowding other trees, is endangering a structure or is causing unsafe street clearance, it need not be replaced.

The ordinance, if approved, also would create a tree bank, funds accrued from donations, fines and after-the-fact fees that would be used to purchase and maintain trees. After-the-fact fees are fees paid to the city by residents who remove a tree without a permit.

Monies from the tree bank also could be used to obtain "professional and technical consulting services related to trees."

The ordinance also eliminates the $25 permit fee for the removal of any tree, and palm trees are exempt from any regulations within the ordinance.