Utility Operations operates 23 drinking water production facilities capable of pumping up to 27 million gallons per day and seven wastewater treatment facilities capable of treating 3.6 million gallons per day. In addition, the County’s Meadowcrest Reclaimed Water Facility produces high quality reclaimed water that is provided for irrigation purposes to an adjacent golf course. Use of reclaimed water results in a reduction in groundwater pumping for irrigation purposes and helps to preserve our limited groundwater resources. The operation of the County’s water and wastewater facilities is permitted by the State Department of Environmental Protection, which requires rigorous testing to ensure that public health and environmental protection standards are maintained.
The division also supplies potable water to customers in Ozello and Forest Hills through bulk water agreements. Agreements have also been made to supply potable water to the City of Crystal River and Beverly Hills/Rolling Oaks Utilities during emergency situations.
The division continues to expand its customer base by providing service to new and existing development. Many of the recent sewer expansion projects in our environmentally sensitive coastal areas were provided through the County’s Water Quality program. This program seeks to minimize the costs to individual residents by acquiring funding from other sources -- including state and federal grants. Large areas in the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka communities have been added in recent years, which have allowed the county to serve an additional 1,700 households. This resulted in the removal of private septic tank discharges from areas in close proximity to the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Rivers, which have been identified as a nutrient source that is adversely affecting the water quality of our groundwater and surface water resources.
Utility Operations is aggressively pursuing a capital improvement program through the implementation of a master plan focusing on water, wastewater and reclaimed water infrastructure. One of the main goals of this program is to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the County’s utility system, which will help to control costs and maintain reasonable utility rates over the long term.
As part of this program, Utility Operations is extending water mains where practical to interconnect isolated service areas and create a more regional utility system. This will promote both greater reliability and reduced operational costs.
On the wastewater treatment initiative, the Utilities Division is adding wastewater collection piping and lift stations to direct flow to the recently expanded Meadowcrest Reclaimed Water Facility. In addition, the county is looking into the possibility of expanding and upgrading the Sugarmill Woods Wastewater Facility, so that it will produce reclaimed water. This effort will increase the availability of high quality reclaimed water to offset groundwater withdrawals for irrigation. On an annual basis, the two plants have the potential to reduce groundwater withdrawals by up to half a billion gallons per year at current flow rates, and depending on growth, that figure could increase over time.