LAKE ASBURY – Treating wastewater is a tough task, but Clay County Utility Authority officials said the completion of Mid-Clay Wastewater Treatment Facility improvements would extend plant capacity from 650,000 gallons a day to 1.5 million gallons a day.
Converted wastewater will be used for irrigation purposes or applied to infiltration basins, according to CCUA officials. The advanced treatment includes screening, grit removal, nutrient removal, filtration and disinfection.
The utility funded the project with $13.3 million from the State Revolving Fund, and about $5.7 million from its capital improvement budget. The reuse program began in 1995. CCUA Executive Director Tom Morris said 14,000 customers use the reclaimed water service. He told 50 people in attendance at the plant’s opening that reuse water wasn’t stylish at the time.
“Nobody made us do it,” Morris said. “We used our money. We really have come a long way stepping out into the initiative.”
Morris said western Clay County was “Ground Zero” for the incoming beltway and the infrastructure had to withstand a larger workload.
“There’s a lot of good news there, but I’m especially concerned because we do not have an infinite supply of water,” Morris said.
The new facility lightens the burden from the Ridaught Landing treatment plant. CCUA has between 125,000-135,000 customers. The Mid-Clay plant can prevent the use of 2,000 septic tanks in its service area.
“We want to conserve our natural resources and create long-term value for our customers,” Morris said.
St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Ann Shortelle said the plant helps keep reuse water out of the river. She said every gallon reused is a gallon of drinking water saved.
“When it comes to our water resources, utilities and water supply, we have to celebrate every step forward,” Shortelle said. “And this one is a big step forward.”
CCUA Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Johnston said the utility wasn’t done. Opening bids for phase two would add another biologic treatment unit and adding a second clarifier to remove waste from water. He said the estimated cost was in the $8-9 million range.
“By adding the next BTU and clarifier we’ll double that [1.5 million-gallon capacity],” Johnston said. “So, this facility will handle three million gallons a day.”