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August 2, 2010

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NAWC On the Move

Mayor Robaina Shares Vision for New Water Plant with Businesses

At a conference on water issues, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina shared the history of and plans for the nearly $100 million water plant that the city is building with Miami-Dade County.

Hialeah is starting to build a nearly $100 million water plant. By 2012, it will tap into the Floridian Aquifer, some 2,600 feet below ground, and make the salty water safe to drink through reverse osmosis.

While the plant's cost has drawn questions in Hialeah, Mayor Julio Robaina detailed plans before industry experts and business leaders last week at a conference dubbed ``Water is Your Business.''

The event on Tuesday was by the National Association of Water Companies and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. It is part of a national series on water issues.
Robaina recognized that some critics disagree with the water plant, including former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez.

``But it will be something that everyone will wrap their arms around in the future,'' Robaina said.
The plant is a joint project between Hialeah and Miami-Dade County. They are splitting the cost, expected to total $94 million. That's down from an estimate of $160 million in 2006.

The project's origins date to 2005, when, with real estate and construction still going strong, Hialeah annexed about 1,800 acres with the vision of nice offices and homes.

But part of the land had to be incorporated into the Urban Development Boundary line and, in order to do that, Robaina said Hialeah had to find an alternative source of water.

The solution: drilling into the Floridian Aquifer and building a reverse-osmosis water plant.
It is expected to be built by the end of 2011 and start producing water in 2012. And it's set to supply up to 17.5 million gallons of water a day to Hialeah and Miami-Dade.

Hialeah recently selected Inima USA Construction Corp. -- an arm of a Spanish company -- to design, build and operate the plant under a long-term agreement.

Robaina said he got criticism from engineers for having one company do the various jobs, but he considered it the best route for accountability.

``I want one person, I want one company responsible for the entire thing,'' he explained.
``My background had showed me that the builder always blames the architect or the engineer,'' Robaina said.

After Robaina's presentation, some panelists at the event offered advice.

Efraín Rodríguez, a regional director of operations for the utility American Water, said Hialeah needs to consider Inima as a partner.

``At the end of the day, it is a joint effort. Everyone has to work together,'' Rodríguez said.

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