Let’s Be Proactive, Pinecrest Vote YES on Water Vote

Pinecrest Councilmember Katie Abbott

Safe and clean water out of the faucet. It’s something the majority of us take for granted. There are roughly 2,000 Pinecrest residents who don’t have this ability. Their water is well water, and they’re dependent on a costly filtration system to clean it.

These residents spend thousands of dollars on a filtration system, pay multiple testing costs annually, buy bottled water, and cannot flush their toilets when the power goes out. All those things are inconvenient. However, these are not the reasons why I’m voting YES on the water vote. Things have changed in the last 20 years. We now know the extent of potential salt water intrusion and septic tank failure, and how they might affect our well water supply in the future. Also, streets on well water don’t have fire hydrants. Fire hydrants! What day and age do we live in where our neighbors don’t have access to a fire hydrant in case of an emergency?

It wasn’t until my campaign last year that I learned about the issues. I knew the basics, but didn’t have the details, and in all honesty, for awhile I sat firmly on the fence regarding funding. I understood both sides. Since then, I’ve researched. I’ve talked to many residents about it, including those who don’t bother testing their well water and those who showed me their well water’s testing reports which included chemical intrusion. No one can deny that the situation stinks (hopefully not literally… yet). 

Should Pinecrest residents be funding this? No, it’s a County utility. However, the cost of our Village taking preventative measures to avoid potential environmental impact problems is priceless. I can promise you if there is a future environmental disaster within the well water system, ALL Pinecrest homeowners and property values would be affected. If word got out that Pinecrest’s water infrastructure was contaminated, we would collectively, as an entire village, be affected. Having a complete and safe water system in Pinecrest would be a benefit to ALL.

We have talked about water for 20 years. Think about all of the time, effort, and money that has gone into that. The problem is not going to go away, and it’s only going to get more expensive to complete. All we’ve been doing is kicking the can further down the road. It IS going to have to be fixed, hopefully before an environmental catastrophe.

The final reason I am voting YES is because that’s who we are- we help each other out when our neighbors are in need. Pinecrest incorporated in 1996 because we didn’t feel we were getting our fair share from the county. This is just another example of why Pinecrest needs to step up and solve this issue for ourselves once and for all.

Pinecrest will continue to look for alternate sources of funding, including local and state grants. In addition, our local state representatives are quite aware of the problem and are going to try to help us secure funds. Florida representative Javier Fernandez came to our water meeting and said that in fact, passing a bond would show the state good faith, resulting in a better chance of getting aid.

We’ve never gotten to the point of a water referendum, that in itself is a win. Let’s let the informed voters speak their mind. Please research the objective information available from the Village’s web site. Wouldn’t it be great if the majority of us decided to invest in the future of Pinecrest’s infrastructure and our neighbors? 


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15 Comments on "Let’s Be Proactive, Pinecrest Vote YES on Water Vote"

  1. Rhonda Goodman | February 22, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    Ms. Abbott,

    Perhaps the Village should have been looking for funding instead of quietly putting this to a vote to benefit a minority not the majority.

    As to your number–2000 residents on well water–that does not appear to be accurate.

    Former council member Bob Ross reported in his opinion piece that there are 742 properties still on well water lacking access and 580 who have access and have not connected.

    The vote should be NO on the bonds.

  2. CM Ross is correct on the number of homes but the number of our residents effected is probably low for the number of people that live in the 742 homes. Every person counts. A 20 year investigation on a solution seems reasonable to going working out a challenge that is a win for all our families.

  3. Priscilla M. Rivera | February 23, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Reply

    While this all sounds nice, the cost to connect to public water, because it is not voluntary(all the permits, fees, construction costs, inspections, capping of wells, re-plumbing of our homes, and changing all faucets and fixtures to accommodate higher water pressure) will prove prohibitively costly and cause many of us to have to leave our homes or face being in violation of the law, chapter 24, and then subject to fines and hearings. Anyone who attended the water meeting on Wednesday evening, February 20th, will attest to this. If someone is willing to mitigate all of these costs for those of us in this situation, I would be willing to listen.

  4. Definitely a problem that needs to be addressed in Pinecrest and advanced with other sustainability solutions. Many homes in Pinecrest and most of the longest owning properties have this problem. It’s something that needs to get done. Glad you’re taking initiative.

  5. Ms. Goodman,
    There is no sneakiness, as you imply. We all see the big signs about the vote in various high traffic points around Pinecrest Equally, with eight information sessions scheduled, the Council has gone out of its way to give residents the opportunity to hear more and ask questions. Katie Abbott is right: this is about our community, beyond the 2000 people affected. Bad publicity about the state of our water infrastructure will affect ALL. We don’t want to become Flint 2.0. Furthermore, if we only pay for the services and benefits that each of us uses, there would be no Pinecrest Community Center, no water storm surge protection, no city water for those fortunate ones who got it 10 years ago, no potable water for those affected by the dry cleaners contamination all those years ago. This is what communities are about. We help each other and, together, make our village a better and safer place for all. I hope you change your mind and vote YES for the bonds. It’s not too late.

  6. I’ll see how many residents “help” me out when I can’t afford all the costs and fees .Vote No

  7. I am one of the original well water people and I still use my well water. I happen to live on the mainline so I could hook up at the additional cost of about $5000 plus water bill monthly. I agree many homeowners would like to have city water but there are those of us also who do not want to hook up.
    By not forcing this to a vote by the council, the mayor did the right thing giving homeowners a chance to vote individually. However it all comes down to the additional expenses of hooking up and paying higher taxes as well as an additional water bill. I still would like to use my well water and the cost of maintaining it quoted is not accurate. It is much cheaper. During Hurricane Andrew we survived because we had well water. The generator kept our pump running and we continued to have water from our well the six weeks without power that we had to live without electricity. There are two sides to every story and this is our side.

    Susan and Bill Randall

  8. Bad publicity about our water? How about the bad publicity about parts Pinecrest being underwater! Putting elevation levels in clear site at several intersections and the putting a sign in front of each house, brilliant marketing strategy for home sellers! What was the commissioner vote for that? When did I get a chance to vote on that? The water line issue is simple, he who benefits should pay! The county, the beneifactor of our water bill, should pay to give every house access and each homeowner should pay to connect if they choose to do so. I’m sure the cost for the homeowner could be included in thier taxes over a period of time, just like the YGreen promotion does for windows and AC’s.
    Ad my grandpa always said “IF you want something all you have to do is Pay for it!

  9. The sneakiness comes from the rushed voting that we are being faced with. Those few who think county water is the answers to all their problems have been organizing for nearly 1 1/2 years. The rest of residents expected the council do as they said at Jan. 2019 meeting and have a non binding vote to see if a real vote should be pursued and paid for. Someone got to the mayor when he found out the county wasn’t doing any elections until end of year do to renovations of equipment, and pushed him into rushing the vote. Now the Village has to do back flips to try to hurry and explain what this vote is about. This all favors the folks who have been collecting money and organizing for over a year. Sneaky? Maybe not but being even handed? Certainly not.

  10. Rhonda Goodman | March 5, 2019 at 9:43 am | Reply

    Thank you Karen Ross.

    On point that the informational sessions are back flips to explain, after the fact of course.

    How about informational sessions prior to forcing a vote that will probably have low turnout because many may not know they have to return the ballot or will even ignore it.

    Doesn’t matter what its called.

  11. Historically, the Pinecrest area was primarily agricultural — with mango and avocado groves, tomato, vegetable and strawberry fields irrigated by wells. As homes were built to house the farmers, wells provided water to their residences. The population density was low and, aside for an occasional power failure, wells were a suitable source for water. Pesticides were used which may leach into the ground water that is the source of our wells.  The excellence of Pinecrest Elementary and Palmetto Junior and Senior High Schools attracted many families to live in this school district even prior to incorporation. Some developers installed municipal water, giving these residences access to Miami-Dade County water service. Others built homes that continued to rely on privately-owned and maintained wells to provide potable water.

    Maintaining wells and home-water systems is not without cost. The cost of well installation, when a home’s well fails, exceeds the cost of hook-up to municipal water. Well water is hard, may contain rust and often damages the home’s appliances and plumbing infrastructure. Filters and water-softening equipment are costly to install and maintain as is the replacement of appliances and plumbing fixtures fouled by hard-water scale.

    Over the years, some progress has been made to supply municipal water to all areas, but the job has not been finished. Too many Pinecrest homes lack municipal water and too many streets lack fire hydrants!  Pinecrest was incorporated as a Village in 1996. Pinecrest has become synonymous with premier municipal services including police, parks and recreation, building and planning services, and public works (except for our water infrastructure). Over the years, the Pinecrest Village Council has recognized that that relying on owner-maintained wells is not appropriate for a community that has become one of the most well-regarded communities in the United States.  With over 18,000 residents living in almost 6500 residences, we need to finish the job! Pinecrest is nationally recognized as a Tree City USA, a Playful City USA and a Community of Respect. In 2011, the South Florida Business Journal recognized Pinecrest as one of the ten best places in Florida for “quality of life”, yet not all our residents have access to a safe and continuous supply of water.   The fragility of a well-based water infrastructure was evidenced when a leak from a local dry cleaner compromised the water of a number of homes requiring the installation of municipal water to these Pinecrest residents. Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Wilma and Irma made all too clear the obvious fact that power is needed to supply well water and residents needed to deal with extended power outages during these natural disasters. We constantly hear about sea-level rise and we worry about coastal flooding. People are less aware that sea level rise brings salt water closer to our precious water wells. Anyone who has driven around Pinecrest may have observed that not all blocks are created equal – many have fire hydrants installed but some are missing the requisite fire protection. Although Miami-Dade firefighters carry extra hoses to accommodate the shortage of fire hydrants in some areas, precious time may be lost in accommodating our suboptimal fire protection infrastructure in areas not served by fire hydrants.  In the event of a drought and wildfires, this could be catastrophic for the entire community! Our precious tree canopy could be lost, and homes and lives could be at risk! 

    For over 2 decades, Pinecrest has been fighting to bring municipal water to all residents. We have succeeded in installing infrastructure in much of Pinecrest. It is now time to finish the job. Let’s not miss t​his opportunity!

  12. Sondra Berlowe | March 8, 2019 at 10:23 am | Reply

    I paid for water lines and connection to them many years ago. I don’t want to pay all over again! Let those who refused to connect when it was offered pay for it now if they want it. The wording on the ballot is very unclear – actually non-existent – on this.

  13. Greg Schmidt | March 8, 2019 at 10:34 am | Reply

    Miami Dade Water should be paying for this, not every single Pinecrest resident. It simply does not make sense especially for residents that already have access to city water or prefer a well system. My family and friends will vote NO.

  14. JOSE PEREZ-TIRSE | March 10, 2019 at 11:04 pm | Reply

    As a medical doctor,it’s appalling when I realize people tend to forget or ignore the health concerns of well water and are more concerned about taxes. There are real toxins in our water too many and therefore beyond what can be measure. I have lived in Pinecrest since 1998, I have seen a significant increase of cancer diagnosis. Could this be a coincidence, well according to Science, it is not. This is due to the fact that there are significant amounts of heavy metals, which could cause cancer. So what is more important taxes or a healthy life. Chemotherapy may be more expensive then these taxes. Think about this.! This is the scientific side of the story as brutally honest as you may find it!

  15. Those of us on county water payed a premium at purchase compared to our neighbors on well. How much is hard to say, but if passed this measure would instantly increase home value for the homes affected. Homeowners insurance premiums will fall with increased proximity to fire hydrants. Those that directly benefit from water access should be paying for the bond. Im voting No.

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