High Springs mayor talks about water

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Fort White Meeting 2 In: High Springs mayor talks about water | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Mayor Ronnie Frazier, third from left, at a High Springs city council meeting in 2019. Photo by Jim Tatum.

Frazier described the Town of Fort White as being in ‘Springs Heaven’ with the town in the vicinity of several springs.  “There are springs all around us and you would think this area here would be just flourishing with natural spring and fresh water,” he said.

What mayor Frazier says above is true, but under his leadership the City of Fort White shot itself in the foot last fall when they refused to oppose the renewal of Seven Springs Water Company’s permit to take about one million gallons per day from Ginnie, one of the big springs in his “Springs Heaven.”

It is naive and infantile to assume that the flourishing springs will forever flourish no matter how much water we take out.  Already that “flourishing” spring is down about 30 per cent  from its historic flow.   Frazier was told that in October of 2019 when Our Santa Fe River members attended his town meeting.

The Lake City Reporter did not provide a link to this article.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


High quality H2O

 By TONY [email protected]

FORT WHITE — Fort White officials thought the problems with water discoloration and smell were behind them.  The town received word last year it was going to get a $2.8 million legislative appropriation to address its water quality issues. Then, the coronavirus pandemic changed the town’s immediate hopes for quality water.

Ronnie Frazier, Fort White mayor, said the pandemic caused Gov. Ron DeSantis to scratch the legislative funding from the state’s budget that was set to go to Fort White for improvements on the town’s water system.

“We were approved for a $2.8 million water system through the legislature and basically because of the coronavirus, the tourism (decline) in the State of Florida, we were part of the cuts that they made,” Frazier said, adding the town plans to lobby to get funding this year during the upcoming legislative delegation hearing in Columbia County on Jan. 19.

“We’re going back to lobby for it,” he said. “With Columbia County (commission) behind us, I feel real good about being put back on the list for this next upcoming year.”

If that occurs, Frazier said it would take about a year to complete the town’s new system once the funding is received.

The Suwannee River Water Management District has already given the town property for new water wells. The 100-acre tract of land is located roughly five miles north of Fort White.

Funding from the $2.8 million legislative grant would be used to install the wells and piping the water back to the existing water plant in Fort White, where the water will be filtered and sent back out to water system customers.

The current Fort White water system has been in place since 1996 and the system serves roughly 300 customers, including the Fort White schools and the South Columbia Sports Park.

Although Fort White’s project was cut from the legislative appropriations budget last year, Frazier said the town has been able to adjust without the funding and maintain its current system.

“We’re passing all regulations, inspections and water tests at this point,” he said. “We’re fine, but the quality… There is a difference between water passing inspections and having quality water and that’s what we’re after. We’re after providing to the citizens quality water.

”Vernon Zinnerman, Fort White Public Works Director, said the water is tested on a regular basis and there are a variety of tests, including tests for contaminants as well as tests for chlorine levels and the water regularly passes state inspections.

Frazier said last year when the plant was changing its filters, it failed a few water tests, but right now the plant is holding pretty steady.

The system recently passed inspections for its tanks and it was determined the wells are the problem.  “The wells, when they dug them, they didn’t dig them deep enough,” Zinnerman said. “So, we need a different well. It needs to go a little deeper.

”While passing water tests may appease state regulations, there are constant complaints from customers about the quality.  “You’ve got discolorations in the water and they complain about the smell sometimes,” Frazier said.

He said the town has a lot of dead end runs in a lot of subdivisions where the pipes run into a dead end. “Water sets [sic] in the pipes sometimes when that happens.”

He said the public works department flushes the lines to try to eliminate the problem, but the DEP wants to know how much water is being flushed.

“It’s a constant battle, but we just got approved where we are going to be putting in loops so we won’t have any dead end runs,” Frazier said. “That’s going to start happening pretty quick here. So there’s a lot going on in Fort White.”

Frazier said the grant was very important for the town.  “I ran for mayor because of our water system,” he said. “… We lived real close to the water system here and at the time, as all the other residents, we would call and complain and all we kept getting told was the water was passing — which it is — but there is a difference between passing and having quality water and that’s what we’re after.”

Frazier described the Town of Fort White as being in ‘Springs Heaven’ with the town in the vicinity of several springs.  “There are springs all around us and you would think this area here would be just flourishing with natural spring and fresh water,” he said. “That’s what were after providing the good, quality water to the residents. It’s time for Fort White to have good water.”

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