Utility summit to bring county, cities together Thursday to talk water and wastewater issues

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Representatives from Indian River County, the cities of Vero Beach and Fellsmere and the Town of Indian River Shores are preparing for a utility summit – a roundtable discussion of sorts pertaining to water and wastewater regionalization issues.

What might actually come out of the meeting remains to be seen, as the lynchpin – the City of Vero Beach – reluctantly agreed to attend.  

The county has been trying to bring Vero Beach to the table to discuss the possibility of merging the two governments’ water and wastewater systems and making services more efficient – and possibly less expensive – to customers.

Vero Beach currently serves the water and sewer needs of Indian River Shores. The town is now investigating whether to continue with its contract for services from Vero Beach or notify the city that it wants to switch to the county’s service.

“The people at this meeting will want to hear from us,” Vero Beach City Manager Jim Gabbard told members of the city council last week when Commissioner Davis addressed the meeting. “They want to hear what our thoughts are. From what Wesley told us tonight, our involvement at this point will be limited, and they aren’t looking for a set commitment.”

The City of Fellsmere has been brought into the meeting as well, but not for utility consolidation purposes. Instead, both the city and county have been discussing the possibility of having the county provide water and sewer service to the outer as-of-yet undeveloped areas of Fellsmere.

Fellsmere leaders, too, said they want to see how leaders from Vero Beach and the county interact and learn from the process.

Sebastian City Manager Al Minner will be in attendance when other officials meet for the utility summit.

“We’re going to listen,” Minner said, noting that there is not anything in particular he will be listening for.

The City of Sebastian is a county utility customer and what affects the county’s system could impact the city, according to Minner.

“It’s an important issue,” he said.

The utility summit is open to the public and will be televised live on the county’s government access channel. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and could go as late as 1 p.m. It is being held at the Richardson Center, Indian River State College Mueller Campus, 6155 College Lane, in Vero Beach.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story contained an error regarding the content of this meeting, electricity issues will not be on the agenda.

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