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Pinellas County asked to conserve water
Utilities project should improve quality and delivery
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Pinellas County Utilities is asking the public to conserve water through Feb. 28 while workers install a new meter at the Keller Pump Station in Tarpon Springs.
The 50-year-old Keller Pump Station located in Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs is being replaced by a new, modern pump station - part of a two-phase project to improve water delivery and quality to Pinellas County.
Pinellas County asked residents to conserve water for 10 days, Feb. 18-28 while workers install a new meter at the Keller pump station located off Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs.

“It’s a complex construction. Welders will be working around the clock,” said Kevin Becotte, plant operations manager for the Department of Environment and Infrastructure’s Water and Sewer Division.

The work is part of two major construction projects designed to help stabilize pressure and improve the quality of the county’s drinking water supply. Pinellas County is collaborating with Tampa Bay Water. Plans for the work began in 2011.

The first project is replacement of the Keller pump station, which is more than 50 years old. The second is installation of a half-mile pipeline where water from Tampa Bay Water and Eldridge-Wilde wellfields will be blended before entering the county’s system.

Currently, workers are installing a new meter on a 66-inch pipeline. To do the job, Utilities had to shut off the main pipeline. A temporary pipe is carrying the load, but it’s a smaller diameter pipe, meaning it can’t deliver as many gallons of water per day.

To make up the difference and keep the water flowing, the city of St. Petersburg will supplement the water coming from the Eldridge-Wilde wellfields and Tampa Bay Water’s regional supply. The Eldridge-Wilde property, located in Pinellas but owned by Tampa Bay Water, has about 24 wells that pump into the water supply system.

Becotte doesn’t anticipate any problems while the meter is being installed. Still, water conservation by the public would help ensure there was enough water for everyone over the 10 days.

He asked that people delay activities that would require large quantities of water, such as refilling swimming pools or pressure cleaning. People also are asked to refrain from lawn watering, car washing, installing new sod/landscaping and operating fountains. Becotte pointed out that conservation in daily use, such as not leaving the water running while brushing teeth, shaving, washing dishes and reducing shower time would be helpful.

“We expect to have enough volume to supply everybody,” he said. “We’ll be OK.”

Utilities had scheduled to do the work two week ago, but due to faulty equipment - a valve that would not shut properly – installation of the new meter was delayed.

Becotte said the operation was “well planned.” He described the collaborative effort between the county, Tampa Bay Water, the contractor and engineer throughout the construction process as “fantastic.”

“The whole project will benefit Pinellas County,” he said. “The new pump station is more efficient. It will use less electricity. The water quality will be better.”

In addition, maintenance cost will be less for the station due to availability of parts.

“The old pump station is over 50 years old. We were fabricating replacement parts because they don’t make them anymore,” Becotte said.

Utilities has contingency plans in place just in case something goes wrong with the current project.

“But we want to let everyone know this is happening so they can help with conservation. We want to keep the public informed,” he said. “We’ll know if the project is successful if people say they didn’t notice a difference at all.”

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