By Rich Pollack
The water was flowing out of the faucets just fine at Jim Gammon and Margo Stahl-Gammon’s top-floor Gulfstream Shores condo for a few months as the summer rains came down.
But when the storms stopped and snowbirds flocked back to their Florida roosts, the steady stream of water used to take baths and make coffee was once again reduced to a trickle — if that — during early morning hours.
For the Gammons and others in the four-story, 54-unit oceanfront condo, the hope of having adequate water pressure that blossomed in the spring has once again dried up with the end of the rainy season and the coming of winter.
“Things were flowing better for a while,” Margo Stahl-Gammon said. “Then after several weeks of no rain, it became unbearable and the problem extended to all floors.”
Now the frustrated condo residents — who say they have been with low and no water pressure in the early morning hours off and on for several years — hope the new city manager in Delray Beach, which provides water to Gulf Stream, can rescue them.
Several members of the condo association’s board sent a letter to Terrence Moore on Dec. 9 asking for help in determining if the water Gulf Stream receives from Delray has high enough pressure to prevent problems in their building, at the northern end of town.
“We request monitoring and evaluation of the pressure and flow to ensure it is adequate to the meet the needs of the town (which includes our building) at all hours,” they wrote.
Although Delray Beach spokeswoman Gina Carter pointed out that the city is not contractually required to maintain a specific water pressure in Gulf Stream, she said residents most likely will have a chance to discuss the problem directly with Delray’s city manager.
“Mr. Moore is always eager to hear directly from residents/customers when a concern is raised,” Carter said.
Details remain to be worked out.
Monitoring of the water pressure at the interconnect — the point at the south end of Gulf Stream and the north end of Delray Beach where city and town pipes come together — has not been possible, but Town Manager Greg Dunham says that may not be the case for much longer. He believes a new meter is being installed at the interconnect that can monitor pressure of water coming into Gulf Stream.
For Gulfstream Shores residents, that information could confirm — or refute — suspicions that the source of their problem may be Delray Beach’s aging water treatment plant off Southwest Fourth Street.
“We still believe something is going on at Fourth Street that is causing a drop in our water pressure in the early morning hours,” said Harvey Baumgarten, a member of the Gulfstream Shores board of directors.
Another contributing factor to the low water pressure could be overwatering of landscaping during those hours.
When the condo residents raised concerns last spring, Dunham and town leaders dispatched police officers to monitor lawn sprinklers and ensure that they were being used in compliance with town restrictions, which allow irrigation only on alternating days based on odd or even addresses.
That effort, which included notifying homeowners of over-irrigating, led to some relief for Gulfstream Shores.
“We’re continuing to make observations of the watering habits of our residents and if we need to, we’ll be having discussions with those responsible for irrigation,” Dunham said.
For their part, leaders of the Gulfstream Shores Owners Association are looking into the possibility of putting in booster pumps and making improvements to the interior pipes of the almost 50-year-old building.
That could cost in the neighborhood of $150,000, according to some estimates, Baumgarten said.
“We could take it upon ourselves, but the question is why are we still having a problem,” he said.