FPUA Water and Sewer Rates to Rise 10% to Pay for Relocating Sewer Plant
Fort Pierce - Tuesday May 10, 2022: Fort Pierce Utility Authority (FPUA) customers are facing a ten-percent hike in water and sewer rates in the coming months to help pay for the long awaited relocation of the South Hutchinson Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.
It's the largest most costly project FPUA has ever undertaken. The utility has already spent $26 million on the relocation effort. There have been estimates placing the total cost at more than $156 million, although the design plans are not yet complete and no final figure has been announced.
At a Town Hall meeting last Thursday FPUA's Director Javier Cisneros said the utility is seeking grant funding and pursuing state appropriations to help pay for it, but rate hikes are still needed. "We are taking every step to make sure those costs are low," he said.
For years the Utility has been under pressure from the state to move the sewer plant off the barrier island and onto the mainland. The wastewater plant is one of ten built near the Indian River Lagoon that is being tracked closely by the Florida Environmental Protection Agency, said Cisneros. The EPA has been urging FPUA to relocate it because of the potential threat of pollution to the Lagoon.
It started off as a small facility built by the Navy back in the forties when south Hutchinson Island was a mosquito infested swamp. The facility has grown in size along with the growth in population.
The new sewer plant will be constructed on public land in an industrial area west of I-95, right next door to the Treasure Coast Energy Center off of Glades Cut Off Road and Selfridge Road on Energy Lane. "It's going to be away from residents, its going to be away from the Indian River Lagoon, in an area were most people will probably never see it," said Cisneros.
Cisneros said the rate hikes have to be in place before FPUA goes to the bond market seeking the necessary funds because they have to show proof they can pay back what they borrow.
The 10% rate hike will be evenly split with a 5% increase slated for July. The next 5% will hit in October. The average FPUA customer who uses 6,000 gallons of water month would pay about $12 more in July, and an additional $13 in October.
Construction of the new plant is expected to begin next January with a tentative completion date of in December of 2024.