City of Delray Beach Faces Fine of Nearly $3 Million for Water Issues

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Delray Beach faces a fine of nearly $3 million from the Florida Department of Health for violations related to the city’s reclaimed water system.

In a Jan. 7 letter to Interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez, Palm Beach County Health Director Alina Alonso recommended a penalty of $2.9 million for problems that date back 13 years. The department arrived at that figure, Alonso said, because of the “willful or intentional nature of the city’s violations” and their long duration.

Because of Delray Beach’s neglect, reclaimed water—used only for irrigation—contaminated the city’s drinking water supply. As part of the proposed consent order with the state, Delray Beach would have to issue this public notice: “The City of Delray Beach cannot assure utility customers that the drinking water produced and distributed met the standards of the Safe Water Drinking Act for the period from inception of the reclaimed water service beginning in 2007 to the time reclaimed water was deactivated on February 4, 2020.”

The letter amounts to a multi-count indictment of the utilities department for more than a decade. It surely will be an issue in the March election. Former City Manager George Gretsas claimed that he was fired for looking into the source of the problem, which he inherited.

I will have a full report in my Thursday post.