Pinecrest takes action to help hundreds of homes get city water

Pinecrest has begun planning to bring treated water to all residents after receiving notice of incoming federal relief funds.

Back in 2007, the South Miami-Dade city converted about half of the village’s 2,000 homes on well water to a municipal system. 

But 25 years after its 1996 incorporation, Oinecret has 94 residential homes that get potable water from underground well systems. The village has been trying to solve the issue since but has never received enough funding to complete the remaining $11.4 million of the project.

The Biden administration signed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, setting aside $360 billion for state and local governments. Pinecrest has been notified that it will receive $8.1 million to respond to the negative economic impact on small businesses and make necessary investments on water and sewage infrastructure.

Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano said that the council is discussing allocating $7 million of the stimulus towards connecting Pinecrest to the Miami Dade County Water and Sewer system.

“This is something that is necessary, and the amount of money we’re receiving is unprecedented,” she said. “I think the fact that [the council] wants to seize on it is the right decision.”

The village is also planning to use $500,000 from a government bond issued in 2004. Pinecrest will also use part of the funding to build and restore fire hydrants throughout the village.

Galiano also said that although fixing the potable water issue benefits village as a whole, she acknowledged officials have heard from some residents not interested in changing their water source.

“Some people have said that they like not having to pay anything to have water, and they want to keep that,” she said. “We’re trying to be sensitive to them, of course, but it’s only a matter of time until it will become inevitable to switch to the county water system.”

Homes that get their water from wells are at risk of salt water contamination due to the rising sea levels in South Florida. These homes are also susceptible to power outages during tropical storms seeing as they rely on electrical pumps to obtain their potable water.

Village Clerk Guido Inguanzo said that the council will discuss enacting a special tax assessment on the affected properties in upcoming village council meetings to determine how much a resident would have to pay to account for the remaining $2 million to complete the project.

“They’re still working out the numbers,” Inguanzo said. “The mayor’s goal was that it would cost a home somewhere in the range of about $1 a day. So, $370 to $375 a year per property for the next 20 years.”

In total, Pinecrest will be allocating $7.5 million to solve the potable water problem. The affected residences will have to cover the remaining $3.9 million.

Federal funding will put the village on track to finish the infrastructure project by 2025.

Giuliana La Mendola is currently a junior at FIU majoring in Journalism and minoring in Nutrition. She hopes to combine her passions for writing and fitness to become a free-lance journalist in the health industry.