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City Council Approves Wastewater Limitations

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As both Brooksville and Hernando County await the completion of a sewer interconnect, the city council voted on June 17 to establish a wastewater allocation management system.

This was the next step in a continuing effort to deal with wastewater capacity issues at the William S. Smith Water Reclamation Facility. Along with the interconnect, there is also a $20 million expansion of the facility that needs to be completed.

On June 3, the council adopted Ordinance 980 to limit wastewater permits to a 20 percent allocation per year. The resolution presented on June 17 will allow the city to manage the number of requested connections in order to avoid a total moratorium and potential fines imposed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for exceeding permitted discharge limits.

The permitted limit for the Smith facility is 1.9 million gallons per day. Due to increased real estate development and changes in property use, it is anticipated that demand will far exceed that capacity.

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“Obviously, we’re not dealing with an easy situation here, but just to put it in perspective, you see, we had rain over the week. On the 16th, we treated 1.7 million gallons of sewage. That’s where we stand as of now,” Richard Weeks, Brooksville public works director, told the council. “It’s not an easy decision, it’s not an easy thing to put together on our part at all, but it’s something that needs to happen until we get this capacity issue under wraps.”

A representative for the development community spoke in front of the council, seeking a brief delay, saying his clients were unaware of the impending restrictions. However, the council was not receptive.

“We have been working on this for months,” Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell said. “We’ve had workshops on it that have been open to the public for discussions. We are trying to be proactive from a city standpoint in fixing this issue.”

“This is an unfortunate situation to be in as a council,” Vice Mayor Christa Tanner said. “In my year and a half on council I feel like we have encountered more unfortunate situations of lack of planning from people that were here a decade before us who could have allocated funds better, who could have seen this coming down the road.

“… We have to make sure our current residents of the city of Brooksville have wastewater.”
Other items discussed at the council meeting included an update on the city’s American Rescue Plan funds.

“We have 27 percent of those funds remaining and I know we have a plan to get those allocated and expended,” Danielle Hendry, project manager for Anser Advisory, told the council.

The council noted it would like to see those funds spent on commercial lawn equipment for maintenance of parks and the Good Neighbor Trail, a man lift, replacing the fire department’s roof, the Jermone Brown Community Center basketball court resurfacing (with Hernando Youth Basketball paying 50 percent), an outside elevator lift for Hernando Park as well as cabinetry in the park building, and furniture for the new Department of Public Works facility.

Also, a presentation was made on the new Adopt-A-Spot process by Jordan Metzel, recreation and community programs manager from the Parks and Recreation department.

What used to be a 5-page application has been replaced by a user-friendly website. There is also a form to log volunteer hours and a map to show what spots are available.

“This has been a labor of love,” Tanner said. “Jordan and the rest of the staff, just kudos. You guys have done a phenomenal job. They took what we said here originally, beautification, took that, workshopped it, came back to us.

“We gave Jordan and staff direction to identify spots and I just think it really enhances this program because it streamlines it. I think it makes the buy-in to be able to want to adopt a spot better, more clear and it’s just a step in the right direction. The map itself, we’ve come leaps and bounds.”

Chris Bernhardt
Chris Bernhardt
A resident of Spring Hill since 1986, Chris graduated from Springstead High in 1999 before moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida. In summer of 2003 he joined the staff at Hernando Today, working at the paper for 11 years as a sports reporter, the last three as sports coordinator in charge of the paper’s sports coverage. After an initial 3-year stint with Hernando Sun, he spent four years as a staff sports reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle. Follow on X @cpbernhardtjr.
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