Several residents complained to the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday about dusty roads and low water in canals as the result of an extended drought.
Former Councilman Dr. Bill Louda asked the council to urge the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District to keep more water in the canals.
“I’ve already talked to [LGWCD Administrator] Steve Yohe about this,” Louda said. “Maybe the town could do something to get the water control district to back-pump more.”
He said his pond is lower than it has ever been and, because what water there is drains off quickly, Louda suggested a weir system on some of the canals, such as Collecting Canal, to help retain water and keep it out of Folsom Canal. That’s where, he said, the town loses most of its water.
“That would slow down the wash to Royal Palm Beach,” Louda said, pointing out that most residents are on well water, and wells could go dry if the water table gets too low.
He also pointed out that firefighters draw water for fire suppression from canals, some of which are completely dry.
Ed Dunn of Collecting Canal Road said the dust is the worst it has been in 15 years. “It seems like the traffic is increasing and the water is getting less,” Dunn said.
Gisela Pferdekamper of Collecting Canal Road was not happy with the lime rock that was put on the road. “We breathe that dust every day,” Pferdekamper said. “The traffic has increased so much. Every one minute to three minutes there is a car going by, and they don’t drive 30 miles per hour. They drive faster, and even if you drive 30 mph, it makes a cloud because it’s very dusty and dry.”
She noted that the LGWCD watering trucks are broken, and they haven’t watered for a week.
“Can you imagine how much dust is in our lungs?” Pferdekamper asked. “This is dangerous. I’d like these roads paved.”
She added that she was promised when she moved to the area that the road would be paved, but that has not happened.
“I think it’s time you do something,” she said. “My husband is home right now, and he’s coughing his lungs out.”
Mayor Dave Browning said he appreciated the comments, but pointed out that Collecting Canal Road is still a LGWCD road.
“We cannot spend town money on that road, so they would be the ones to talk to,” Browning said.
Pferdekamper said she sent a letter to the district and plans to attend the next LGWCD meeting.
Councilman Ron Jarriel agreed that the road should be paved. “Numerous times I’ve brought it in front of this council to pave Collecting Canal from Folsom all the way to A Road,” Jarriel said. “In the past, people have made up excuses. They say it belongs to the water control district. If this town wants to pay to get it paved, the water control district will turn it over to us. We have to show them that we can do a better job than what they are doing.”
Jarriel pointed out that voters approved a $6 million bond issue last month to improve roads.
“I’m sure the manager is going to get with the lawyer as soon as possible to find out when we can start getting the money,” he said. “Collecting Canal is a major reliever road for Loxahatchee Groves. People on Collecting Canal are abused by the cut-through traffic.”
Browning and Councilman Todd McLendon said the council had asked the LGWCD to turn over Collecting Canal Road to the town, and it had not.
“That’s the first step,” Browning said. “We can’t spend money on a road that we don’t own.”
McLendon added that the dust problem is not just on Collecting Canal Road, but is in issue across most of the town.
LGWCD Supervisor Don Widing said he was disappointed to hear the suggestion that the water control district has refused to turn over the roads. That was not his interpretation of a recent joint meeting on the issue.
“I’m not going to turn this into a political debate, but if you look back at the minutes when we met in this room, I sat right there, and we agreed. With all due respect, to say that the water control district is refusing to turn over roads is misspoken,” Widing said. “To try to keep the community from being more divided on this, we had a meeting here to bring people together.”
Widing, whose term on the LGWCD board will end in June, said he was disappointed to hear an alarmist statement that the district is refusing to turn over the roads when both the board and the council had agreed to meet quarterly until the road issues are resolved.
“My commitment is that with the time I have remaining on the water control board, I will work as hard as I can to get these roads where they need to be,” Widing said. “You’ve got the money now. We should all be on board with this. So please, everybody, take a deep breath. This is not the time to make these alarmist statements.”