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City of Brooksville Wastewater Analysis: Expansion Needed by 2029

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By 2029, the City’s current wastewater treatment system won’t be able to keep up with the City’s growing needs, according to Coastal Engineering’s Cliff Manuel, a consultant for the City.
He recommends moving forward with an expansion plan approved in 2018, which could cost the City roughly $15 million.

At the Brooksville City Council meeting on March 18, Manuel presented and discussed the City of Brooksville’s Wastewater Analysis Report. He emphasized the significance of water and wastewater management as a primary business of interest for the city, which is crucial not only for community growth but also as a complex business requiring regular analysis to ensure capacity and compliance with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

This involves safeguarding the community using these systems and demands knowledgeable staff for effective management and expansion decisions. Manuel highlighted the financial implications of investing in water and roadway systems, pointing out the necessity of conducting capacity analysis reports. The current focus is on the city’s water and sewer systems, including the William Smith Water Reclamation Facility, which is central to the wastewater treatment process. This facility is a domestic wastewater-activated sludge treatment facility utilizing the Modified Ludczack Ettinger process. He stressed the importance of understanding the treatment and disposal of treated water and conducting capacity analyses to accommodate city growth and project implementations per administrative code requirements.

Cliff Manuel examined the waste-water analysis chart and explained its components. The chart is used to determine how well a wastewater treatment plant’s systems are working. The yellow line represents average annual flows, the red line represents average daily flows for three months, and the blue line represents average monthly daily flows. He noted that the chart generally shows steady data but highlights occasional peaks representing the waste-water treatment plant’s permitted capacity being exceeded. These peaks are attributed to rainwater infiltration through old pipes and improperly sealed or submerged maintenance holes, especially from May to July in Brooksville. These anomalies significantly impact the waste-water treatment at the William Smith Water Reclamation Facility and require careful examination.

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Peaks can be dealt with in several different ways. Hernando County is growing exponentially, so the city will need to expand the treatment plant based on the city’s growth to avoid exceeding the current capacity limit. While the report shows that the plant stays under the capacity level overall, one can’t ignore those peaks for the community’s safety and FDEP reporting criteria.

As per the report, in 2029, the current treatment plant will exceed its capacity on an average daily flow basis. This means the treatment plant will exceed its ability to treat incoming wastewater, the peaks no longer matter at this point, and there would be a real wastewater concern.

Manuel stated, “Sound engineering judgment states that when a treatment plant gets to 80 percent capacity, a city should move forward with its expansion plan for the plant.”

Back in 2018, the city was permitted to expand the treatment plant to 3 million gallons per day (3 MGD) from the currently permitted 1.9 million gallons per day (1.9 MGD). That was being done in cooperation with a large development moving forward at the time, Southern Hills. They invested in the current treatment plant and started the process of designing the plant expansion; some of the equipment was purchased for the plant to be expanded—but three years later, the city has yet to follow through with expanding.

The review of the William S. Smith Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) indicates a need for expansion to accommodate increased wastewater flows due to population growth and development. Cliff’s recommendations include:
Starting construction on the already permitted expansion of the WRF to increase its capacity to 3.0 million gallons per day (MGD).
Analyzing the collection system to identify and repair infiltration issues from aging and damaged infrastructure will help reduce unnecessary water flow into the facility and extend its capacity.
Focusing particularly on areas of significant infiltration, such as the Candlelight area behind the Cortez 50 Lift Station and along School Street.
Considering the construction of a surge tank to reduce the impact of high inflow peaks and stabilize hydraulic loadings to the oxidation ditch.

These steps are essential to support future development and ensure efficient operation of the wastewater treatment infrastructure.

When the council inquired about the cost of the expansion, Cliff stated that previously, when he was designing a sub-regional wastewater treatment plan for the city, the price was $1.9 million. Today, the cost will be closer to $15 million. The city does have the opportunity to use this analysis to apply for state grants to help with the price of the expansion.

The City of Brooksville Council stated that this issue is a very high priority for them, and they have been reviewing it over the past year. They currently have a wastewater management team in the city to address this problem. The city is eager to continue growing as a community, so they are focused on addressing this problem as soon as possible.

A proposed expansion schedule for the Smith S. Smith WRF is shown below:
December 2025—Update and Complete Design of William S. Smith WRF 3.0 MGD
Expansion (Plant has been permitted to 3.0MGD once modifications
have been constructed.)
January 2026—Begin Invitation for Bid of project
June 2026—Begin Construction of William S. Smith WRF 3.0 MGD Expansion
June 2028—Complete Construction of William S. Smith 3.0 MGD Expansion

Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in communication focused in culture and media. She is Poynter ACES certified in editing through the Poynter Institute, with a certificate of book publishing obtained through the University of Denver.
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