HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Palm River homeowners are one step closer to ditching plastic water bottles and drinking fresh water straight from their homes.
Hillsborough County began the North Palm River Drinking Water Project on Monday afternoon. Crews will be installing five miles of 6- and 8-inch diameter pipelines and approximately 90 fire hydrants.
The $14 million project is funded by the County's Capital Improvement Program and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It is an effort to provide the North Palm River community with affordable drinking water after years of only having access to well water that is not suitable for consumption.
Here is what the Hillsborough County Water and Sewer Projects website says to expect:
Hillsborough County selected a design-build construction method for this project which will save time and money while minimizing public inconvenience
The design engineer and constructor will closely collaborate on all aspects of the project to ensure the best construction solutions and the least community impact
Construction will generally take place on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and will involve heavy equipment and some excavation
Maintaining access to homes will be a priority
To minimize impacts to the neighborhood and homes, most of the pipelines will be installed using trench less a construction method called directional drilling
Homeowner Kevin Anderson no longer drinks the water from his own home. For almost two decades he has relied on bottled water and only uses the well water for showering or for chores such as dishes or laundry.
Although the project will not benefit Anderson's neighborhood, he hopes eventually Hillsborough County will bring drinking water to his neighborhood.
The water he gets to his home is yellow and smells like ditch water, he said.
"It's been an issue ever since I've lived here," Anderson said.
Anderson has been through four hot water heaters and three different water softeners.
The water heaters fill up with calcium deposit which lets in little rocks and mud into the water.
"I've been through probably three different water softeners in the last 12 to 15 years," Anderson said.
The project will be done in three phases. The first phase began east of 54th street, south of 12th Avenue and west of 70th Street.
The project will generate construction noise and traffic in the area as well as lane closures and detours.
Hillsborough County says here's what to expect:
The project team will work closely with local and state transportation authorities to develop traffic plans to keep residents moving safely
Detours and lane closures will be clearly marked and flag men will help direct traffic
Hillsborough County will notify emergency services in advance of detours and lane closures
The project team will work closely with the neighborhood and nearby schools to keep residents informed and involved
Hillsborough County commissioner Lesley Miller has championed for this project for over a decade. Miller is happy residents the will finally have the opportunity to enjoy fresh drinking water from their homes.
Residents in the area can sign up to be connected to the municipal drinking water pipelines during in person sign up events on July 18, August 1 and August 18 at the 78th Street Community Library. Each event runs from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.