April 8, 2008

To: Bob Winter Aquatic & Marine Habitat Subcommittee Chair/Canal System Committee
From: Stan Plizga & Norb Zoltowski, Special Study Group
Subject: Canal Irrigation Draw Study Status Report
Attachment: SWFWMD Meeting Report, March 12, 2008

We made a trip to the SWFWMD Facility located on Fruitville Rd. in Sarasota on March 12 for a meeting Stan set up with Owen Thornberry, Professsional Hydrogeologist involved with their Water Draw Permitting process. We had a very good discussion with him and came away with significant information on their Permit process, latest Permits for the Golf Course Draw points including overhead imagery noting the permit draw locations; see the attached report for meeting detail.

Note- This is a special Study group [Retired Engineer Volunteers] commissioned by Bob Winter, Aquatic and Marine Habitat Subcommittee chair to Study/Evaluate and issue a Report on this Water Conservation issue. This effort was a planned task as noted in the Canal System 5 yr plan, pages 11-13 and expedited by the discovery of the 2,600 ft. Swale Breach, see Status report issued in January. At this stage this is a fact finding study including canal resident irrigation draw. We are presently seeking permission via the RWA office manager to visit the Permit Draw locations. Jay said he would do that and see if they would help in this Study effort. It is important to note that Canal resident irrigation cumulative withdrawal is not insignificant and will double with total build out. It is not just a Golf Course or Drought issue.

Owen indicated an interest in getting a copy of our final report with any recommendations when issued. He also said our first step, should be to restore the overflow weirs to their threshold levels to retain more water in addressing our low water level concern. That was the first thing we needed to do, then address the canal level control issue which could be a rather involved process.

Also, Stan has contacted a Charlotte County member involved in the Recycle Water process from the four [4] County Waste Water Treatment Facilities involved. He is attempting to set up a meeting with him so we can understand the Recycle Water Plans, Facilities and plant capabilities i.e. existing and future, see attached report for some initial info gathered. Study will include an understanding of the priority for filling the Golf Course irrigation source pond if both recycle water and canal water draw is available to fill that pond. Note- residents have been complaining that the golf courses are drawing from the canal first since they have to pay for recycle water.  Golf course owner claims recycle water available is insufficient; therefore they have to draw canal water. At this stage, residents should await the fact finding study results.

In regards to Canal Re- charging concepts, two ideas are being looked into for feasibility: 1) provide extra clean recycle water into canal system from increased capacity RWA facility. –John Farrell, Florida Aquatics and 2) connect the Butterford Canal water, to our Canal system via a one way connection. This canal presently diverts surface and groundwater flow to South Gulf Cove. – Charles Dodd. Contact with the Coral Creek Ecosystem Restoration Study group is needed. Nick was contacted by this group and will supply contact info to Charles.

Stan Plizga                                           Norb Zoltowski

Cc Rotonda West Canal Committee members
Rotonda West, Inc RWA Manager, John Farrell, C. Dodd
Rotonda West Board of Directors, Owen Thornberry SWFWMD-Sarasota


The following agenda was used as a guide to further our understanding of the permitting process, the contents within the permits and related metered consumption.

1. Introduction

  • We introduced ourselves as members of the Rotonda West Association, Inc. (RWA) Aquatic/ Canal committee, Marine and Aquatic subcommittee. We are retired engineers residing in the community. We were asked by the subcommittee chair to perform a fact finding study on the canal irrigation water draw by both the golf courses and the residents. i.e. canal water conservation/ level issue.

2. Purpose

  • Obtain all golf course watering permits for Rotonda golf courses.
  • Explain the original design concept envisioned for our canal system which was to be recycle water based using the Rotonda waste treatment facility.
  • Explain the adverse effects on our canal system water level due to damaged or missing overflow weirs and breached outfall swales and less than normal rainfall.
  • Obtain actual draw data for irrigation from pump pond and for canal draw locations and reclaimed water supply if available.
  • Determine if canal level control limits exists for Rotonda System.
  • Have them explain their Rotonda permit formats for clarity:
    • Explain use and use type.
    • Define WHAT Lat. /Long. Points are for: Pump, Pond or Intake?
    • Explain algorithm used to calculate water DRAW ALLOCATED.

Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) Trip Report

A meeting was held at the SWFWMD facility located on Fruitville Road in Sarasota on March 12, 2008 at 10:00 am.

The attendees were Owen T. Thornberry, P.G. Senior Hydrogeologist of SWFWMD, Norb Zoltowski and Stan Plizga of the Rotonda West Homeowners Association (RWA) Canal Committee, Special Study Group.

 Following our introductions, the meeting was open by Norb and Stan explaining and showing with the aid of maps and photo’s the original concept of our canal system using weirs, dams and grassy swales to contain and filter the water in the canal prior to being emptied into the West Branch Coral Creek Impoundment.

 We continued our presentation by explaining the present status of our canal system and our low water level concern. We showed that overtime, the lack of maintenance, flooding and erosion, the weirs being washed out and the 2,600 Ft. long swale leaking, the canal system was not capable of retaining the water level intended in the original design.

 Owen acknowledged he was unaware of the present condition of our canal system. He further explained that the canal systems capability to maintain some level of water is not considered in the water allocation draw permits. The water usage was determined on a “as needed for the crop type” basis for the permittees irrigated acreage. In this case grass. He also noted that our canal system is not under any type of formal level control.

 A request was made to get additional permits beyond our current list. We were taken to the vault where the files are stored and introduced to the staff. They were able to provide an additional nine (9) permits for a charge. This information was based on the current permits on file in the vault.

 We were provided overhead imagery views that showed each section of Rotonda by permit number and each section with its water draw points represented by a dot on the section map.

We requested clarification of the draw points and an explanation of the lat. / long. references. He indicated that the intent was to identify the draw point, but sometimes it might be a reference from which the actual point is visible. i. e. if the draw point is in the middle of a pond or it may be the Pump House.

This needs further clarification, since we would like to locate them with our GPS device. There are apparently five [5] canal draw points to fill their pond permitted. Three of these ponds have reclaim water available. Also the latest permits establish a date for the golf course to supply a feasibility report on filling their pond with reclaim water in order to reduce surface water [canal water] draw. SWFWMD intent is for the reclaim source to be primary and the surface water draw to be an alternate backup.

Owen also provided us Graphs and Tables showing the monthly water consumption for the irrigation meter location i.e. the pump house outflow.

We noted that this was the draw from the pond for irrigation purposes. We asked if the monthly water consumption [draw] from the canal system pts. were available. It should be noted that the irrigation pond is filled by both canal water and reclaim water if it is available. Therefore we needed the draw data from the canals and the supply data from the recycle for such cases.  He indicated that flow meters are required for all draw/supply locations and that data should be available. He said he would supply that spreadsheet data via email if we would give him our email addresses.

It was brought to our attention that if we had any further issues or concerns there is a process in place to help get resolution. The process for starting this action was also explained. A request for help would be initiated by calling local SWFWMD office and asking to speak to the “Engineer of the Day”, you would explain your concern and provide as much detail as possible. This action would document and begin the process. Depending on the issues the resulting action could be meeting with a field inspector ON SITE to help resolve the issues.

Stan Plizga                        Norb Zoltowski

Rotonda West Aquatic Canal System Committee,
Special Study Group