Monday, October 20, 2014

City ends discharge of wastewater effluent into Huckleberry Creek

Stock Photo

Richard Delp, with Baskerville-Donovan, Inc., (BDI) was the bearer of good news at the regular monthly meeting of the Apalachicola Board of City Commissioners held Tuesday, October, 7. BDI is the engineering firm that secured funding on behalf of the city, designed and oversaw the construction of the Apalachicola Wastewater Reuse and Land Application System.  

Delp told commissioners that the construction of the Wet Weather Holding Pond was completed and that the pipe used to discharge wastewater effluent into Huckleberry Creek from the treatment plant during emergencies and heavy rains had been cut and capped.

The holding pond will be used to hold the effluent during inclement weather was the last phase of construction necessary to completely halt the state permitted practice of discharging treated wastewater effluent into a natural body of water. A practice by the city of Apalachicola that’s been a bone of contention for a number of years with the neighbors who homes borders the Creek, especially with Eric and Wanda Teat, who was forced to bring suit against the city during the mid-1990s in an effort to stop the discharge.

In the late 1990s during former Apalachicola Mayor Alan Pierce administration the idea to use spray fields as a viable alternative to surface water discharge came forth from an Environmental Advisory Committee appointed by Pierce to look into the matter.

Around the year 2000, BDI obtained a planning grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Following the grant the city tapped the Florida Communities Trust for $2.5M for land acquisition to locate the spray fields.

The city also obtained an additional $2.5M to fund the overall project through the efforts and support of former State Representative Jane Gayle Boyd. However, the bulk of funding in the tune of an $8M came from the Obama Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The entire project to construct an upland system to disposal of treated wastewater effluent consisted of the purchase of 200 acres off Pal Rivers Road, 415 acres west of the wastewater treatment plant, and another 160 acres at the end of Jule Road, which also included was the purchase of properties that make up the Holy Family Senior Citizens Center off Dr. Frederick Humphries Street.

The project included the laying of over 100,000 feet of pipe throughout the city to irrigate public owned parks and open spaces, the constructed of two storage tanks, a spray field with 250 heads and 20 computerized controllers, all of which incorporates 21st Century green technology to conserve energy by utilizing solar power to operate the controls at remote locations throughout the system.

Funding in the amount of a $957K grant to construct the Wet Weather Holding Pond and to permanently cap the discharge pipe going into Huckleberry Creek was obtained in 2013 from a state legislative appropriation funneled through the FDEP. 

Without a doubt, the monies were well spent to guarantee a cleaner environment, greener parks, and public spaces and to replenish and conserve our primary source of potable water, all without burdening the taxpayers of Apalachicola with any additional debt.

All totaled the project cost a little over $14M and from conception to completion took right at 16-years to become a reality.