Winter Springs Water Quality Initiative Update

As reported by WFTV, residents will see construction along SR 434 near Central Winds Park. The city is installing water mains to eventually provide reclaimed water to neighborhoods on the east side of Winter Springs, such as Tuscawilla Crossings. This is a major victory for the Winter Springs Water Quality Initiative.

Between 2015-2017, Mayor Lacey and city leadership funded a plan to install pipes to meet future water demands. Then CFO Shawn Boyle blocked the funding and refused to complete the project. Mr. Boyle would become City Manager and then recently resigned as the city was under two separate audits.

“Completing this overdue project is a major victory for the residents of Winter Springs and a direct result of our years long advocacy for improving our water infrastructure. After two years of pressure, I am glad the city has reversed course and moved to complete this previously funded project.”

Jesse Phillips, founder Winter Springs Water Quality Initiative

Background & Timeline 

  • In May 2021, the City of Winter Springs issued an emergency declaration limiting lawn watering amid water supply shortages.
  • On May 26, 2021 City Manager Shawn Boyle stated the water supply had fallen below levels required by the Department of Environmental Protection, blaming the water supply issues on “irrigation using potable water.” 
  • The Winter Springs Community Association (WSCA) discovered between 2015 and 2017, City leadership built a reclaimed water plant, and funded plans to install necessary reclaimed water lines for current and new developments. In 2021, a new administration neglected previously approved and funded projects.
  • On June 14, 2021, the WSCA published these findings in a video entitled “Winter Springs Water Crisis: Did we almost run out of water” (video below) pointing out how the failure of city leadership to follow through on these plans had put Winter Springs residents at risk (ie insufficient pressure to fight fires, etc).
  • On July 12, 2021, the City Commission passed a resolution acknowledging the City was in violation of its Consumptive Use Permit (CUP), city leadership had not followed through on prior plans for additional reclaimed water capacity, and the City had violated SJRWMD Central Florida Water Initiative.
  • The July 12 resolution also scheduled a public hearing which Commissioners falsely asserted the reclaimed plant never worked and scheduled a public hearing and investigation to validate their claims.
  • On September 21, 2021, in a Public Hearing city leaders heard testimony from a former Public Works Director the plant had been fully operational, and that past leaders had left the city with a 300-million gallon water supply surplus and funded projects to meet future needs. 

Call to action: Call Mayor McCann and Commissioners Benton, Johnson and Elliot to issue a public statement: 

  • Correcting repeated false claims the water treatment plant was never operational.
  • Clarifying how many tax payer dollars were spent on the public hearings premised on this misinformation.
  • Acknowledging the firefighting and other public safety risks of former City Manager Shawn Boyle’s decision to block funding, and resultant emergency declaration.