In April 2018, the Volusia County Water Resources & Utilities division completed construction of an advanced wastewater treatment process and 1-million-gal-per-day (mgd) expansion at the Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility in DeBary, Fla.
The county partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) as a key strategy for the protection of Volusia Blue and Gemini springs.
The primary project goals were to reduce nutrient loading, increase the availability of reclaimed supply, maintain uninterrupted service throughout the construction period, achieve substantial completion on-time and within budget, and generate community interest and support for additional water quality initiatives.
The DEP designated both springs as impaired for nutrients, meaning increased nutrient concentrations were causing an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic plants and animals. Thus adopting total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) to improve environmental water quality necessary to protect both springs was critical.
The county upgraded the treatment method to a five-stage bionutrient removal process designed by CPH Inc. Total nitrogen is expected to be reduced by more than 25,000 lb per year.
“We believe the reduced nutrient loading into the Blue Spring basin to be the biggest success of the project,” said Robert D. Beedle, plant operations manager for the Volusia County Water Resources and Utilties division. “The reduction will hopefully begin to restore balance to the natural populations of aquatic plants and animals. We are currently seeing a 54% reduction in total nitrogen and 77% reduction in total phosphorous.”
Additional reclaimed water supply was achieved as the county decommissioned a 0.3-mgd wastewater facility in the Blue Spring basin and redirected flow to the expanded Southwest Regional facility. The strategy was determined more efficient and cost-effective than investing in advanced treatment at two separate facilities.
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The consolidation of wastewater flow to one treatment facility generated an additional 220,000 gal per day of alternative water supply, helping to reduce reliance on potable water for irrigation within the springshed as population within the region continues to grow.
Maintaining continual operations and uninterrupted service for customers was a key goal for the project. Challenges occurred during the 20-month construction period. Frequent communication and coordination among the engineering, construction and plant operations teams helped ensure the objective was consistently achieved.
“From our perspective, it was being able to maintain compliance with our permit requirements as the entire treatment technique was converted from a three-ring Orbal oxidation ditch and a separate Upflow Sludge Blanket Filtration treatment train to independent five-stage bionutrient removal trains, all the while keeping current flows diverted while new stages came online and current plant processes were disrupted,” Beedle said.
The project was considered a cornerstone for an improved water quality strategy for Volusia Blue and Gemini springs. In June 2016, a project kickoff event was held at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Fla., for the purpose of educating citizens and community leaders about the importance of protecting the springs. In April 2018, the dedication and open house event at the county’s upgraded Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility drew considerable interest among state and local officials, as well as local media.
“We are immensely satisfied with the success of the project. We met our goals of being on time and on budget. The plant is producing a high-quality effluent that will benefit the community and the environment,” Beedle said. “Our staff have a showcase facility they can be proud of and take ownership in. We are poised to be ready for the growth coming to the area and will be a viable solution to provide reclaimed water supply to the region within the springshed as populations continue to grow."