Water-Related News

State sues to force repairs to two water systems in Polk County

BARTOW – The state has filed lawsuits against the owner of two private water systems, asking the court to enforce agreements mandating improvements.

The systems, Alturas Utilities southeast of Bartow and Sunrise Utilities in Auburndale, collectively serve about 350 residential customers and a handful of commercial accounts.

In 2017, Stuart Sheldon, representing the respective utilities, signed consent orders with the state agreeing to upgrade and repair the two systems, according to the lawsuit, but none of the deadlines set forth in the orders has been met. Roland Reis, chief legal counsel with the Florida Department of Health office in Bartow, said Tuesday the maintenance issues haven’t impacted the water quality in either system. The lawsuits, filed Friday in Circuit Court, are intended to avoid that problem, he said.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” he said, “to keep the systems from falling into disrepair and maybe a catastrophic situation.”

The state already has imposed fines totaling about $5,300 against both Alturas and Sunrise, he said, and the owners face more fines if repairs aren’t completed.