BELLEAIR, Fla. (WFLA) — The town of Belleair is facing a potentially expensive solution to modernize its drinking water system.
Some of the infrastructure for the system has been in place since the 1920s. The town’s water treatment plant has been in place since the 1960s.
Now the town is under a consent order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection because of high levels of Trihalomethanes in the water supply.
Trihalomethanes or THMs are compounds that can be found when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic material in the water supply.
The town of Belleair draws its water from seven wells.
Mayor Mike Wilkinson says when the water treatment plant was originally designed, THMs were not even measured.
“We’re told our residents are in no danger. We are taking it very seriously. Our priority as a commission and staff is to deliver safe and sustainable water to our residents,” said Wilkinson.
The town is currently under a 90-day test to see if the water can be brought to acceptable US standards.
Wilkinson says that’s only a short-term fix, “However, long term we still need to update our aging system or we need to go with an alternate water source.”
One possible solution was to add a reverse osmosis water filtration system, but it’s an expensive fix.
“The problem with that is at last look it was a $12 million price tag. That was over six months ago, so I’m sure those prices as far as the length it would take to build the new system. We are supplying roughly 4,000 residents so looking at spreading a $12 million cost would be scary, so it’s not really too viable of an option because of the price tag,” said Wilkinson.
Another possible solution is to connect to the Pinellas County water system, but talks have been underway with the county for months.
“It’s hard to say exactly why it’s taken this long, but this is where we are right now and I’m hopeful we will come to a solution shortly,” said Wilkinson.
The mayor says the town and the county are having regular talks about the plan and he hopes to have cost estimates completed by December.