Separating sludge

Groveland unveils new ‘dewatering’ system for city

ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer

Groveland officials last week unveiled an Ultraclear dewatering unit at their Wastewater Treatment Plant on Sampey Road.

The unit, officials said, will allow the city to separate sludge from the waste that comes through the plant. But instead of having to pay a company to haul away the wet sludge, the dewatering unit will drain the water from it, then turn the leftover sludge into a solid — with the help of a little polymer.

“You mix polymer with the sludge and it acts as a coagulant. It binds it together and lets the water run out. We can then use it for reclaimed water,” Mayor Tim Loucks said. “It’s a simple but very effective concept and will help us be able to balance out reclaimed water for the south and north ends of Groveland.

“This system also helps us environmentally because if we are able to decrease our ground water withdraws, we’ll see our lake levels start to stabilize.”

The city currently pays $90,000 a year to have its liquid sludge hauled from the wastewater treatment plant. The new system will reduce the city’s hauling costs to approximately $18,000 annually.

The site work, foundation, pump pad and piping installation were designed and constructed by city staff. Total cost of the project was $65,000, Public Works Director Jamie Huish told guests at an Innovation Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Wednesday.

“This is really cool and extremely good for the environment and good for our pocketbooks,” said City Manager Redmond Jones, adding that the savings would enable the city to pay off the unit in six months. “People talk about going green, but this is making green, and we’re excited to be a part of that.

“Also, we live in a county with a big focus on its lakes, and with this, we’re literally doing our part to make sure our lakes stay at healthy levels.”

Jones said they will install new technology — Phase 2 of the project — that will turn the solid sludge into fertilizer that the city will be able to sell to residents andbusinesses around town or use to fill their right of ways.

Jones said before taking the plunge on the unit, he and Huish visited cities throughout Florida to see how they were faring with it and other available technologies.

Mount Dora’s Patrick Anthony of Patrick Anthony Technologies, who installed the unit, said more than 60 other cities throughout Florida have incorporated the unit. In Lake County, it was incorporated only in Mount Dora, south Lake Utilites and Utilities Inc.

“We’re not the first city in Lake County to do this, but we’re one of the first and that’s still exciting,” Jones said.

Rodney Lucas, the city’s Economic Development Manager, said the dewatering unit is already attracting new businesses. He said he has been approached by a company that washes and details rental cars and is interested in locating to Groveland because of the technology.

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