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Winter Springs votes unanimously for new wastewater plan

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The long path to a new wastewater treatment system cleared a big hurdle Monday with talk of fixing stinky emissions and three unanimous votes of approval by the Winter Springs City Commission.

The city has spent months working on design concepts to replace its aging water reclamation and wastewater systems, which process the water flowing from everything from kitchen sinks to gas station toilets.

Mayor Kevin McCann said that the city is embarking on a lengthy process that will pay off in the long term.

“I think it’s important for the residents to understand that, particularly with the master plan, this is a roadmap,” he said. “It’s a roadmap for the next 20 years. In doing these designs the intent is to lay out infrastructure that will serve the city for a century.”

Residents in the audience at the special meeting applauded the decision, saying that the Winter Springs City Commission was acting on a problem the city had avoided for years.

“I really feel that this Commission needs to be commended for what you are doing,” resident Maurice Kaprow said. “You are biting the bullet. You are making the hard decisions. You’re not just kicking the can down the road as previous commissions have done.”

The wastewater master plan and design concepts for the city’s east and west water reclamation plants were formally presented by design engineers from Carollo Engineers and Kimley-Horn and Associates on April 25. At Monday’s special meeting Commissioners asked final questions, asked for public input and then voted on the resolutions to move forward.

Before the decisions were made, Deputy City Manager Casey Howard reminded the public that the votes were not to allocate money to build any of the systems, though rough cost estimates of more than $100 million over 20 years had been mentioned during design presentations.

“All three of these motions are not to spend money,” Howard said. “Before we’d actually be spending money we’ll be coming back to the Commission and go through the formal bid process.”

About the wastewater and water reclamation facilities, Commissioner TiAnna Hale asked engineers and staff to address one of the more obvious issues with the city’s wastewater systems.

“The odor piece of that concept is very important. Make sure we keep the odor away from our residents as much as possible,” Hale said.

“That is a key component to any new wastewater facility, any wastewater treatment facility,” Winter Springs Public Works and Utilities Director Jason Norberg said. “As a reminder, these plants are 50 years old. That was not a design criteria in those days. It is now. Great care and attention will be taken when it comes time to design the headworks and the odor control for these plants.”

The conceptual design the city approved was for a biological nutrient removal (BNR) system to replace both aging facilities in the city.

Before voting on the conceptual design reports for the east and west water reclamation facilities, Commissioner Rob Elliott said he thought “the right decision has been made as far as which concept we’re going to pursue.”

“I don’t know if I’m necessarily proud to say that I know more about wastewater treatment plants than I ever thought I would know, but I do and that’s a credit to the folks we’ve hired to teach us what these plants are all about,” Elliott said.

Designs for the plants will be created and brought back to the Commission at a future meeting, which is yet to be decided.

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