BSU prepares for hurricane season

In preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. has purchased additional tow-behind generators to enhance the utility’s hurricane preparedness capabilities and assist with operations during emergency situations that may result in extended power outages.

“BSU weathered Hurricane Irma extremely well last year,” said BSU Board President Bob Bachman. “However, as forecasts call for another busy hurricane season, the board of directors and staff are taking steps to enhance our emergency response capabilities.”

BSU’s pre-hurricane planning, action and infrastructure resulted in successful and sustained operations through Hurricane Irma. Water service was maintained throughout the Bonita Springs and Estero service area, with one exception. Due to its Evacuation Zone A location and the catastrophic storm surge forecast, BSU made the decision to temporarily cut service to the Bonita Beach area to protect the integrity of the system, private property on the islands, and water supply for the area as a whole. Service was quickly restored, with a standard two-day boil water notice afterward.

BSU’s preparedness plan also included switching all plants to generator power before the storm hit in anticipation of losing electricity. All water wells and 332 lift stations throughout the service area lost power. Prior to the storm, permanent generators were installed at a number of these facilities.

Afterward, staff worked 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, to fuel and pump down the lift stations with a fleet of portable generators until power was fully restored.

“Our focus during hurricanes and similar emergencies is on meeting the needs of our community,” said John R. Jenkins, BSU executive director. “Drinking water availability is critical during hurricane recovery activities. Imagine the impact of loss of water and wastewater service, on top of flooding, storm damage, and power outages. We plan year-round in an effort to minimize storm impacts and maximize recovery efforts.”

During assessments after Hurricane Irma, BSU identified a need to dedicate more generators to water well and lift station operations during and after a hurricane or other emergency. Three new generators will be available for identified master lift stations and a fourth generator will assist in providing backup power to wells in order to maintain potable water service to members.

In addition to purchasing generators, BSU continues to pursue ways to harden its facilities and improve its storm preparation. Efforts include expansion of communication capabilities with remote water tanks, wells and lift stations, use of CNG as an alternative fuel supply for fleet vehicles and equipment, sewer system interconnects to afford adequate response time and a robust sewer system maintenance and replacement program.

Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. is a not-for-profit water and wastewater utility cooperative founded by local citizens in 1970. The member-owned utility provides service in the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and unincorporated South Lee County. The utility is recognized as an industry leader with awards from the American Water Works Association, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association. For more information, visit the BSU website at www.BSU.us.

BSU to conduct yearly water treatment change during May

Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. will conduct its yearly change to the water treatment process during May as a preventative-maintenance measure. Members may notice a temporary and harmless difference in the smell or taste of their tap water.

“Despite a temporary change in the taste and smell of the water, members can rest assured that it is safe to drink and use for general household purposes,” said Andy Koebel, BSU director of operations. “BSU performs this yearly water treatment switch to help prevent bacteria from developing resistance during our usual disinfectant treatment process.”

Water used for kidney dialysis and aquariums should go through additional filtering during this water-treatment change. BSU recommends those using at-home kidney dialysis machines contact their equipment suppliers, so proper filtering equipment can be installed. Tropical fish and aquatic animal owners should check with tropical fish stores to learn how to pretreat tap water before adding to tanks.

By temporarily switching to a free chlorine residual, BSU removes the small amount of ammonia that is used during the usual water disinfection process to prevent bacterial resistance. The change ensures that BSU’s water continues to remain clean, safe and drinkable.

To help the treated water reach the entire system as quickly as possible, fire hydrants will be flushed more often than normal throughout the month. Members who have questions about the process can call BSU weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 239-992-0711.

BSU produced more than 3.5 billion gallons of potable water during 2017, using two water-production processes. The utility blends water produced through the traditional lime-softening process with water from its reverse-osmosis facility for optimum taste and quality.

Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. is a not-for-profit water and wastewater utility cooperative founded by local citizens in 1970. The member-owned utility provides service in the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and unincorporated South Lee County. The utility is recognized as an industry leader with awards from the American Water Works Association, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association. For more information, visit the BSU website at www.BSU.us.

BSU board elects officers

The Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. board of directors has elected Robert Bachman president, Brian Farrar vice president, and Ben Nelson Jr. secretary. Mike Malloy was reelected treasurer for a second term.

Bachman is owner/president of WBG SW Florida Inc. A board member since 2000, he has served previous terms as president, vice president and treasurer.

Farrar joined the board in 2016 and is president/managing member of BCF Management Group LLC. He serves on the Lee County Mosquito Control District board of commissioners and is vice-chair of the CREW Land & Water Trust board of directors.

A Bonita Springs resident since 1960, Nelson previously served on the board from 1990 to 2001 and rejoined in 2016. He has served previous terms as president and vice president. He served for 16 years on the Bonita Springs City Council, including two terms as mayor, and has owned/operated Nelson Marine Construction for more than 35 years.

Malloy has served on the board since 2012. He recently retired as a vice president of customer service with Mach Energy. A Bonita Springs resident since 2003, he has 40 years of experience in the utility industry and served in management positions with utility companies.

BSU members elect nine directors to the board to govern the utility. Other board members are Paul J. Attwood, Frank W. Liles Jr., Vincent J. Marchesani, Robert H. Sharkey and James Strecansky.

Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. is a not-for-profit water and wastewater utility cooperative founded by local citizens in 1970. The member-owned utility provides service in the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and unincorporated South Lee County. The utility is recognized as an industry leader with awards from the American Water Works Association, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association. For more information, visit the BSU website at www.BSU.us.

Pardon Our Dust

BSU Customer Service has moved to the old engineering building while a new Customer Service building is being constructed

We are pleased to announce that a new Customer Service building is under construction! The existing customer service building was demolished in late April 2018 and the new building is expected to be completed at the end of 2018. The new, 6,450-square-foot Customer Service building will be updated and enable BSU to better serve our members. 

During construction, rest assured that there will be no disruption in customer service to members. BSU Customer Service department has relocated to the old engineering building across the parking lot and members are welcome to visit there for any needs. 

During the construction of our new Customer Service building, board meetings will be held at our Operations Service Center located at 11500 Operations Way. 

Directions to BSU Operations Service Center 

Click on the renderings to get a sneak peek at what the new Customer Service building will look like once it is completed. We look forward to sharing progress and updates with you!

 

 

BSU announces $2.97 million capital credit retirement

The Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. Board of Directors has authorized the first retirement of capital credits in the utility’s history. Capital credits for members during 1988, 1989, 1992, 1997 and 2005 totaling $2,968,194 will be paid out.

“We are pleased to announce the first retirement of capital credits to BSU members,” said BSU Board President Jim Strecansky. “This is one of the benefits of being a cooperative member. The utility is in a strong financial condition, and the board determined it was an appropriate time to initiate the utility’s first capital credit retirement.”

Capital credits are allocated to members each year based on revenue that remains after payment of all expenses, debt service and an amount set aside for reasonable reserves. As a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, BSU members are eligible to earn capital credits for each year of utility service when there is a positive net margin. A member’s capital credit is calculated based on their service payments for the year in proportion to all member service payments for the year.

“As a nonprofit cooperative, we operate in the interest of our members,” said John R. Jenkins, BSU executive director. “BSU staff worked diligently to develop the necessary financial, software and customer service procedures to process the capital credit retirements for eligible BSU members.”

The board of directors determines when to retire capital credits on a year-to-year basis based on the financial condition and needs of the utility. Capital credits are retired in chronological order, starting with the earliest years, according to company bylaws. In some years, there are no capital credits to allocate to members. In those years, annual revenue has been fully committed to utility operations.

The capital credit retirement will roll out within the next 60 days. Current BSU members will receive a credit on their utility bill. Former members within the past five years will be mailed a check and former members from more than five years ago will be mailed a letter with instructions to process their capital credit payment.

“Members who are unsure of their eligibility to receive a capital credit payment can visit the website to request a statement,” said Jenkins. “In addition, former members can go to the website to update their contact information and check a listing of members we cannot locate.”

For more information about capital credits, visit www.BSU.us/capitalcredits.

About Bonita Springs Utilities Inc.
Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. is a not-for-profit water and wastewater utility cooperative founded by local citizens in 1970. The member-owned utility provides service in the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and unincorporated South Lee County. The utility is recognized as an industry leader with awards from the American Water Works Association, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association. For more information, visit the BSU website at www.BSU.us.

The BSU board of directors presented a check to BSU members for capital credit retirements for 1988, 1989, 1992, 1997 and 2005. From left to right: Vincent Marchesani, Brian Farrar, Jim Strecansky, Bob Bachman, Frank Liles Jr., Paul Attwood and Robert Sharkey