Venice golf courses say proposed water fee has them green

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VENICE, Fla. - There are five golf courses which get reclaimed water from the city of Venice. New rate proposals have been enough to turn more then the grass green.

"It was going to go up as of June 1st 300%, and then in 2017 1000%." Rob McCoy, who manages Capri Isles and Waterford, says it could cost upwards of $50,000 a year each for his courses. Smaller operators like those at Bird Bay say it may just drive them out of business all together. "It would be terrible to see something like that happen. It would effect not just the golf courses and players but the residential community that bought on the golf course for the esthetics and property value."

Venice Utility Director Len Bramble says it's all a part of a rate study conducted by the city. "What they pay for reclaimed water is a fraction of what it costs to get it to them." Currently only about 7% of the costs.

Bramble says more are finding the highly treated water with nitrogen, phosphorus and oxygen useful. "People are more comfortable with it so there is a demand for it. When we essentially started giving it away in order to find a home for it now there is a lot of competition for it." Especially during dry times.

The catch is those who use it also help the city by not using drinking water and disposing of the once sewage water. Especially during busier and wetter months. "They say hey we have an excess can you use more?" says McCoy.

Bramble says if it wasn't for the users the treated H20 would be pumped into nearby waterways. Last year the courses took more than a million gallons off their hands. "We would be disposing of reclaimed water under a permit to places like Curry Creek or the Intracoastal Waterway and making nothing off of that."

Bramble says he would rather see the water go to good use and has now suggested the city take a closer look. "We are still working on it."

McCoy says it's hard to budget out $50,000 these days. He says some increases would be okay but not so much at one time. "We don't know yet. We will see what the final proposal from the city is. I am optimistic there is a common ground that can be met."

Those representing the golf courses are looking to have continued talks with the city in hopes of coming up with more reasonable rate increases.