There are few aspects that are more responsible for moving civilization out of the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era than is the treatment of our municipal and industrial waste streams (sewage). The responsible treatment of our waste streams, coupled with the treatment of our drinking water supplies, has led to advances in public health that have contributed to extending life expectancies, primarily due to the control of infectious diseases. The City of Apopka's Water Resources Divisions take this responsibility seriously and work hard on a daily basis to ensure the health and well-being of our community is protected.
The City of Apopka began its wastewater treatment operations in 1972. The original permitted capacity of the wastewater treatment plant was two million gallons per day (mgd). The facility provided secondary treatment and basic disinfection using a Walker Process Package Plant. During that time, the treated effluent from the facility was disposed of via restricted access sprayfields located at the treatment facility.
In 1989, the facility was expanded to a permitted capacity of four million gallons per day (mgd) and the treatment process was upgraded to produce an effluent that was suitable for full public access reuse of the reclaimed water. The expansion of the facility included a two mgd advanced secondary treatment plant including preliminary treatment (grit and debris removal), a Carousel® loop aeration system, two secondary clarifiers, a tertiary filter system and chlorine contact tanks. Since the 1989 upgrades, the water reclamation facility has produced reclaimed water that is used for irrigation for large, commercial customers such as the Errol Estates Country Club, Rock Springs Ridge Country Club, Zellwood Station Country Club, Englemann's Nurseries, Bronson Citrus, and numerous residential subdivisions throughout the City. As of March 2011, the City serviced over 15,000 wastewater and 5,100 reclaimed water commercial and residential customers. This efficient use of our water resources resulted in the City being recognized with the David W. York Reuse Award in 1997 for outstanding reuse system in the State of Florida.
In 1999, an additional tertiary filter system and chlorine contact tank was constructed. There were also two new high service reclaimed water distribution pumps installed boosting the public access reclaimed water production capacity to four million gallons per day. In 2004, the City re-rated the water reclamation facility from a capacity of 4.0 mgd to 4.5 mgd.
The Water Reclamation Facility is also equipped with a full service SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system that monitors the operation of the facility 24 hours per day. In the event of a treatment or equipment malfunction, the SCADA system computer contacts the operators via cell phone and verbally advises them of the malfunction and its location. This use of technology expedites the operator's ability to correct the problem and maintain quality service throughout the treatment process and insure compliance with the facility's operating permits.
In 2010, design was completed for another expansion of the water reclamation facility that will add an additional four million gallons per day of treatment capacity. This expansion not only expands the City's ability to produce more reclaimed water, but it also provides for enhanced nutrient removal in the treatment process and enable the City to comply with the Wekiva River Basin Protection Act. The facility will be able to produce reclaimed water with nitrogen levels of 5.0 mg/L and lower, which is at least half of the level permitted by the Act. In the City's continued efforts to explore green technologies, a Solia® solar sludge dryer is designed into the expansion. This will afford the City the opportunity to produce a minimum of a Class 'A' sludge that can be land applied without damage to the environment. The solar dryer is energy efficient, in that the Florida sun is the energy source that will treat the sludge and reduce the facility's dependence on other energy sources. The facility has also been designed for full automation, which reduces the need for additional staffing and enhance the operational reliability of the facility.
Through the continued growth and expansion of the City's reclaimed water system, the City has recognized the beneficial conservation impacts that the use of reclaimed water has had on our water supplies. In 2004, the City constructed the North Reuse Pump Station, which is located next to the Northwest Recreation Complex. This new pump station provided the City with the ability to further expand the reclaimed water system throughout the community and improve service to its users.
In 2008, the City constructed a 83 million gallon lined reservoir and pump station at the Northwest Recreation Complex. This reservoir is unique, in that it is a one of a kind source of reclaimed water for the North Reuse Pump Station. All stormwater collected in the Recreation Complex is collected and stored in the reservoir and reused as reclaimed water for irrigation. The reservoir is equipped with a built-in filtration system to remove particulate matter and turbidity from the collected water. The City can also store surplus reclaimed water from the water reclamation facility during wet weather periods when demand is low for irrigation. In 2010, the City installed three fountains in the reservoir to serve to improve the appearances for the community to enjoy and provide a source of aeration for the maintenance of the pond. Additionally, the City has stocked the pond with grass carp to maintain vegetation levels in the reservoir. The grass carp are intended to serve as a green method of maintenance and reduce the City's dependence on the use of chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.