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Florida Department of Health proposes $1.8 million settlement against Delray Beach for reclaimed water violations

State health officials claim city submitted 1 or more false statements, failed to inspect connections
Delray Beach reclaimed water program has 'lack of institutional control'
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 04, 2021

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health is proposing a $1.8 million settlement against the city of Delray Beach for its reclaimed water program.

A consent order accuses the city of nearly a dozen violations involving its reclaimed water program.

State health officials claim the city submitted one or more false statements, failed to inspect connections and 581 customers lacked backflow protection.

The order also requires the city to issue a public notice saying it "cannot assure utility customers that the drinking water produced and distributed met the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act for the period from inception of the reclaimed water service beginning in 2007 to the time reclaimed water was deactivated on February 4, 2020."

Contact 5 shared the consent order with Delray Beach resident Linda Polly and the price tag of the proposed settlement.

"It's upsetting," she said. "I know what's going to happen. They're going to charge the residents of Delray Beach. We're going to be the ones who will have to pay for that, and I don't think that's fair."

Several city officials turned down WPTV's request for an interview when Contact 5 showed up at a workshop Friday.

A spokesperson hired by the city told Contact 5 that "the city received a proposal from the DOH which we are in the process of reviewing."

RELATED: Lack of institutional control to blame for cross connection of Delray Beach reclaimed water system, report says

The consent order is personal for Polly.

"I was taken by ambulance to the hospital because of vomiting and diarrhea," she said.

A whistleblower claims to have discovered a cross connection at home about half-a-mile away from Polly's place.

She said she got sick weeks later in January 2019. Polly believes her illness is attributed to the water, but there's no proof.

She told Contact 5 that she recently reported the illness to the Florida Department of Health at the advice of a city employee.

"I think the people who run the city should be held accountable for it," Polly said.

The consent order is just a proposal, and the city plans to negotiate with the state.

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