By LESLIE STEIN
Weeki Wachee Springs, Hernando County’s treasure, needs to be protected and improved to maintain the water quality at the Springs, as well as groundwater, rivers, lakes, and Gulf. Southwest Florida Water Management District is working on a reclaimed water project, called US 19 Reclaimed Water project and will benefit Weeki Wachee Springs by reducing groundwater demand, reducing nitrogen loading and water quality at the Springs. A 3 million gallon tank at the Glen Wastewater Treatment Plant will store highly treated reclaimed water, which will then be used for irrigation, industrial purposes and irrigate commercial and residential properties. Water that comes into the plant is treated, cleaned and reclaimed.
Thomas Kiger, professional engineer states this will benefit the reduction of demand for fresh groundwater, conserve water from the aquifer and reduce nitrogen loading which will improve water quality at Weeki Wachee Springs. The new plant will be more efficient and will process the water producing a cleaner water to go back into the ground. The treated water will be pumped along US 19 via 16” pipes to irrigate Timber Pines and service other utility customers. If you have driven along 19 recently, you may have noticed the large purple pipes. Also planned is a $13-million dollar extension which would run the length of County Line Road, then northward to the Brooksville Tampa-Bay Regional Airport (BKV), as well as, other proposed pipeline connections to cover more of Hernando County.
This project is part of a cooperative project between SWFWMD, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Hernando County.
Gordon Onderdonk, Hernando County Utilities Director reports the Spring Hill water reclamation facility is older and less efficient in removing nitrogen from the water. Once the Spring Hill facility is decommissioned, the reclaimed water at the newer Glen wastewater plant will then start to lower the nitrogen loading into the groundwater and improve the water quality at the springs- as it will be much cleaner when it goes back into the ground.
John Allocco, Hernando County Commissioner states, that this allows the county to comply with some of the new regulations to reduce nitrogen loading in the water. This collaboration also returns tax money back to taxpayers to offset the costs of reducing nitrogen loading and improving water quality in the springs.
The new plant is expected to be completed by end of summer 2019.