Residents determine need beats water cost

Published June 22, 2002|Updated Sept. 3, 2005

Sometime after sinking their third well last February, the Bonners had enough.

The couple spent thousands of dollars over the years on filtration systems to remove the sulfuric smell and brownish tinge from the water at their Lake Tsala Gardens home, just east of the Inverness city limits.

In the meantime, as drought made Big Lake Henderson smaller, the Bonners and other residents watched their wells collapse or run dry.

It was time, Vince and Marilyn Bonner decided, for central water.

The majority of Lake Tsala Gardens residents voted against seeking central water last year, with some saying their wells were fine or they couldn't afford the estimated $2,360 assessment and $937.50 connection charge.

But this year, the Bonners and other Lake Tsala Gardens homeowners whose homes are closest to State Road 44 have successfully petitioned the county to extend central water to their half of the community _ the half where most residents want central water because their wells are becoming intolerable.

The area that will receive central water includes S Cove Walk, Moonbeam Way, Westlake Drive, Mooring Drive and Paradise Point, where 55 of the 93 lot owners signed petitions in favor of the project.

"When we went up and down (the street) with the petition, not one person asked how much is this going to cost," said Mrs. Bonner, who collected signatures along Paradise Point. "They were just thrilled to death that we're getting it."

And they should get it soon.

The water will come from Inverness' water system, which already runs along SR 44. A consultant for the county is designing the 5,500-foot extension that will serve this half of Lake Tsala Gardens, county Public Works Director Ken Frink said.

Construction should start in October and take three or four months, he said.

The County Commission will hold a public hearing before construction starts, possibly in August or September, to give residents an estimate of the project cost, Frink said. After the work is done, commissioners will hold another public hearing to set the assessment.

The cost is added to the property tax bill for each affected lot owner, and it can be paid off over 10 years.

"The assessment will be based on actual construction costs, which we will not know until we complete the project," Frink said.

Since Lake Tsala Gardens is outside Inverness, county government is responsible for arranging central water for the homes. The Inverness system was chosen because it is the closest appropriate system.

Eager to expand its system and help neighbors in need, Inverness has picked up the tab for extending its line on SR 44 and designing the system for Tsala Gardens, costs that otherwise would have been tacked onto the assessment that homeowners will pay.

"The city has really bent over backward to help," Frink said.

Although central water will come with a cost, the Bonners say, it will also bring savings. No more expensive filtration systems or jugs of bottled water.

"Even people with good water systems in their houses still don't want to drink their water," Mrs. Bonner said. "Several neighbors around here don't even wash their clothes at home."

_ Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached at 860-7303 or