PRECIOUS STUFF — Rainwater spills from a downspout along West Georgia Avenue in Downtown DeLand. One of the historic district’s mini-murals has a mouse sipping from the bounty with a straw. PHOTO BY DANNY SORENSEN"/>
PRECIOUS STUFF — Rainwater spills from a downspout along West Georgia Avenue in Downtown DeLand. One of the historic district’s mini-murals has a mouse sipping from the bounty with a straw.  PHOTO COURTESY DANNEY SORENSEN

City of DeLand water customers are likely to see their bills go up in the coming years as the city eyes plans to improve water infrastructure and expand its ability to deliver reclaimed water for irrigating landscapes. 

A study conducted by consulting firm Raftelis projects that DeLandites paying approximately $74 a month on their water bills will see a 2.2-percent increase each fiscal year from 2022 to 2026, if the City Commission adopts the recommended rate schedule. A water bill of roughly $74 could rise to $81.50 by 2026. 

Population growth and a continued drive to expand environmentally conscious options like the use of reclaimed water for lawn irrigation are fueling the increase. 

GRAPHIC COURTESY CITY OF DELAND An average water bill cost for DeLand water customers and how it will change between now and 2026.

“​​Our Consumptive Use Permit from the St. Johns River Water Management District requires us to find alternative sources of water supply to protect Blue Spring and meet the minimum-flow requirements established for the spring,” Assistant City Manager Michael Grebosz told The Beacon. “These projects are required whether additional growth occurs or not.”

Upgrades to the city’s utility systems will come in the form of capital projects. Along with a previously discussed — and budgeted for — new administration building, city staff plan to improve the Wiley M. Nash Water Reclamation Facility located on South Amelia Avenue. 

Consumptive Use Permit, or CUP: A permit stating how much water a municipality is allowed to pump from the Floridan aquifer.

The plant currently produces 6 million gallons of reclaimed water per day, but the latest utility study indicates that residents’ demand for reclaimed water exceeds that 6 million gallons. Once completed in 2023, the improved plant would produce 8 million gallons of reclaimed water per day. 

Improving the current plant, Public Services Director Chad Gamble explained to the DeLand City Commission Aug. 16, will be more cost-effective than building a new plant, as the city can take advantage of existing infrastructure.

WHAT ARE THEY PAYING? — The City of DeLand’s current and proposed water rates are compared here with those of neighboring municipalities. DeLand residents’ water bills aren’t the most expensive in the area, but they aren’t the cheapest, either. DeLand residents pay as much as $25-$60 less, on average, than their neighbors in Daytona Beach, Deltona and Orange City, according to a rate study conducted by utility consulting firm Raftelis. But city water customers pay as much as $10-$15 more than the average residents of Sanford and New Smyrna Beach. The proposed higher water rates would increase the average bill by about $1.50 in 2022.

Other projects include building wellfields along State Road 415. Those projects are all about increasing DeLand’s available water supply without draining water from the Blue Springs springshed under our feet.

The city also plans to increase fees required of developers looking to build in DeLand.

Development fees are determined, city staff told The Beacon, by how many new structures a planned development will introduce to the city. 

On average, DeLand’s development fees are greater than fees charged in Orange City and Daytona Beach, but less than what Ormond Beach and Deltona charge. The proposed rates would raise DeLand’s average development-connection fees, sometimes called water and sewage impact fees, by about $800 per typical single-family home.

The city’s coffers are well-stocked to fund utility projects, the rate study indicated, but DeLand will still need to take on loans to fund all of the $178 million in capital improvements. Raftelis recommended the city take out more than $80 million in loans to help fund the new projects.

The increased water rates will return to the City Commission as an ordinance to approve in September. Once agreed upon, the new rates will go into effect in October.


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