by Larry Murray …….
I was pleased to read that FKAA has slowed its rush to build a multi-million dollar desalinization plant, though I disagree with your reason for postponement. I assume that the criticism raised by the Key West Chamber of Commerce played a part in your decision making. I agree with the KWCoC that there needs to be considerably more community input before FKAA invests tens of millions of dollars in a desalinization plant. Shifting part of the cost to the state from local rate payers, I do not believe, is an adequate solution to the problem and may ultimately fail. What is needed is more creative thinking.
We all know that a steady supply of fresh drinking water will be a growing problem for Monroe County over the years. The Miami aquifer is already severely strained and saltwater intrusion looms on the horizon. And, who knows what negative effect FPL’s actions at the Turkey Point nuclear plant will have on the aquifer. The necessity for locally providing potable water will grow over the years, perhaps exponentially.
Building a new desalinization plant is very much 20th century thinking. It is reaching back to the past to solve a problem for the future. My suggestion is that FKAA think more in terms of 21st century solutions to our dilemma.
One means of providing potable water that is employed throughout the country is converting wastewater to potable water. FKAA recently built a 20th century sewage treatment plant on Cudjoe Key, replete with the problem of what to do with the treated effluent. Great expense was made to drill deep holes to dispose of the effluent so as not to pollute nearshore waters.
I wish at the time that the sewage plant was constructed that FKAA had given serious consideration to a wastewater to potable water solution. I raised that possibility early on with county officials when they were in charge of sewering the Lower Keys and found no interest. Perhaps it is not too late to modify the Cudjoe plant. I certainly think that it is well worth examining the feasibility of that option which would address two problems, disposal of wastewater and creation of potable water.
As they say, FKAA needs to “think out of the box”. There is more involved here than just who will pay the construction costs. Much more thought and consideration of alternatives needs to be given before moving forward with an extremely expensive project.