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ECUA Plant Goes Online Next Week

ECUA press release:

Six years after Hurricane Ivan’s devastating impact on Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority’s (ECUA) Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, the ECUA’s new Central Water Reclamation Facility (CWRF) is preparing to accept wastewater flows and begin operation on Monday, August 30, 2010.

The CWRF has been designated as an AWT (advanced wastewater treatment) facility, meaning it will produce effluent of a very high quality, which will be disinfected to the level required for unrestricted exposure to the public. One hundred percent of the reclaimed water from the plant will be reused, eliminating any potential surface water discharge. Unique safety design features were included in the state-of-the-art plant; the CWRF is constructed to withstand Category Five hurricane force winds of up to 190mph and the site is a minimum of 50 feet above sea level, removing it from any potential flood issues.

Unlike most new construction projects of this size, the ECUA has been able to complete the $320 million replacement project under budget, and on-time, in about five years. Steve Sorrell, ECUA’s executive director says, “The secret to the success of CWRF project is teamwork and a visionary Board of Directors. The ECUA board focused on the big picture and the needs of the community, putting aside political issues.

My team was allowed to manage the project’s day-to-day operation, allowing us to act with the efficiency of a private organization, keeping the process moving without having to get approvals in advance.”

ECUA engineers have already completed pressure testing and cleaning of the new transmission lines and the three new regional pumping stations.  During the week of August 23, ECUA pumped clean water through the system to conduct the final process checkout.  Start-up of the CWRF will begin on Monday, August 30.  It will then take a few months before the entire system is fully functional, but it’s expected that all flow will be diverted from the Main Street Plant by January 2011.

The initial start-up includes bringing “seed sludge” from other ECUA facilities to start feeding the biological treatment process, much like a bread starter.  Once the treatment system is ready, wastewater flow will be diverted from the Main Street Plant and pumped to the CWRF.  The rate at which the diversion flow is increased will be determined by how quickly the biological treatment is operating in its new environment at the CWRF. All reclaimed water from the CWRF will go directly to area industries, Gulf Power and International Paper, for use in their industrial processes. When not reused by industry, effluent will be disposed of on spray fields at the plant’s site.

Sorrel added, “The funding for the project came from five sources and is the largest public works project in Escambia County’s history. In this era of financial constraints, the project has been an economic catalyst, stimulating positive income growth and job opportunities for the Northwest Florida area.”