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Upgrades, improvements help GPIWA better serve

August 14, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

It's easy for the public to take drinking water for granted. All you have to do is go to the kitchen sink or the dispenser in the refrigerator door and you have an endless stream of safe, clean water.

Public drinking water has been regulated by the federal government since 1974. The law authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency to set health-based standards for drinking water.

The Greater Pine Island Water Association has been supplying water to Pine Island and Matlacha residents since 1964.

Article Photos

The new 200 kW generator at the call center/business office.


"GPIWA started with just 495 members in 1964 and today we serve over 7,000 members," GPIWA director/manager Laurie Adams said. "There's a lot to do to keep the water flowing."

Adams has spent a long time in the safe water supply industry and came to Pine Island three years ago from Burlington, Vermont.

"I started there in charge of water testing and as positions came up through the years, I took them and moved up," Adams said. "I spent 33 years with the Burlington water system and decided it was time to downsize. That's how I came to Pine Island."

Adams first Pine Island/Matlacha project was to upgrade the water system in Charlotte Shores.

"As systems get old, they're prone to breaks," Adams said. "The older they get the more breaks there are. Charlotte Shores went from old pipes with no fire protection to all new main lines and a full system up to the meter, plus full fire protection."

Additional projects included the homes along Shoreview Drive and homes in Matlacha Isles.

"Both of these areas are being better served with much larger pipes," Adams said. "We went from 2-inch pipes to 8-inch pipes and added fire hydrants. These new systems should serve these communities for the next 50 years."

GPIWA is a reverse osmosis system.

Reverse osmosis is a water treatment process that removes contaminants from water by using pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane. During this process, the contaminants are filtered out and flushed away, leaving clean, drinking water.

Since Adams arrived three years ago, the RO chemical feed systems have all been upgraded, new pumps have been installed for water processing and delivery to the distribution system and significant upgrades to technology have been made to allow control of remote operations from the plant.

"One important addition is a new 600kW generator was installed at the main plant," Adams said. "We used this generator during Hurricane Irma and several times since when there were power outages. We also installed a new 200 kW generator at the call center/business office. These improvements allow GPIWA to not miss a beat at this location which pumps water from the 3 MG storage tank on-site."

GPIWA has recently received approval for a Limited Development Order for an equipment storage building next to the business office. Construction will begin later this year.

"GPIWA is governed by a board of directors consisting of nine members of the association," Adams said. "We are always in the process of maintaining and improving service to our customers and the board and I strongly believe in investing in our future."

Anyone interested in learning more about GPIWA should visit the website or call the main office.

The GPIWA office is at 5281 Pine Island Road Bokeelia. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit the

website at or call 239-283-1071.



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