Water-Related News

Major wastewater treatment project boosts reliability, controls costs

Thousands of customers benefit from consolidation of three treatment plants in northwest Hillsborough County

Years in the making, Hillsborough County's largest-ever capital improvement project ensures reliable wastewater disposal and reclaimed water service for thousands of residents from Carrollwood to Town 'N' Country to Westchase.

The Northwest Hillsborough Wastewater Consolidation Program is unlike anything the County's Public Utilities department has undertaken. It combines three facilities separated by miles of neighborhoods, roads, and commercial enclaves into a single campus, the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility, on County land east of Race Track Road and north of the Citrus Park Drive extension.

When Hillsborough County's Board of County Commissioners launched the undertaking in 2014, it wanted to shut down two aging sewage treatment plants and improve service for utility users throughout the sprawling area. Keeping down consumers' costs, controlling odors and noise, preserving natural habitats and wildlife, and allowing for expanded service as the area's population keeps growing also were priorities. Now, a half-dozen years later, the farsighted goals of this capital improvement program have reached fruition.

A clarifier structure at the expanded Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility.

The Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility can process up to 30 million gallons of wastewater daily, though it generally handles a little more than half that amount. It also is equipped to pump highly treated wastewater back to communities for uses such as lawn and landscape irrigation.

Here are the three facets of the project that together make up today's water reclamation process:

Closing the Dale Mabry Water Treatment Plant. The outdated, 40-plus-year-old facility on West Village Drive was replaced with a new pumping station and six miles of underground transmission pipelines to deliver wastewater from the Carrollwood area and surrounding neighborhoods to the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility. The Reclamation Facility, in turn, sends highly treated wastewater back to Carrollwood. Carrollwood Village Park opened at the site in fall 2018.

Razing the River Oaks Wastewater Treatment Plant. The aging plant on Sheldon Road - also more than 40 years old - was demolished. A pumping station about one mile away at Hillsborough County's West Service Unit now moves wastewater from parts of Town 'N' Country and surrounding areas to the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility.

Expanding the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility from a capacity of 10 million gallons a day to 30 million gallons. The $193 million project enables the plant to treat wastewater collected in surrounding neighborhoods, as well as handle what's sent to the facility from the former Dale Mabry and River Oaks service areas. The plant is powered by a natural gas microturbine, which allows it to keep running during an unforeseen event such as a hurricane. And with plenty of County land surrounding the property, there's even a multi-use recreational trail through restored/enhanced wetlands north of the facility.

The lengthy project improves wastewater service, enhances reliability, reduces power costs, and minimizes future rate increases. Public Utilities will utilize knowledge gained and advancements made during the Northwest Hillsborough Wastewater Consolidation Program to assess future service elsewhere in Hillsborough County, including at the South Regional Water and Wastewater Facility in Ruskin.