|Posted by Anne Siren on March 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM|
By Judy Wilson
Hillsboro Beach – The town’s $5 million rebuild of its water plant is expected to get health department approvals and be fully functional late this week. Tuesday morning, town officials cut a red ribbon marking the official end of a discussion that began in 2007.
Before the decision to rebuild, commissioners considered selling the 14-acre water plant tract on East Sample Road and Dixie Highway and building a reverse osmosis plant on the grounds of town hall. But costs were prohibitive and engineers CH2MHill were commissioned to do the rebuild.
As a side note, the construction of the town’s first water plant in 1970 also had issues when the commission rejected a $326,160 price tag which had soared from the original estimate of $215,000. It later voted to go forward with the project.
As required by the Department of Environmental Protection, the new plant has enough redundancies to make it fail-safe, James Rabideau, project manager for CH2MHill, said. Added were new chemical tanks, filters, pumps, pipes, a testing lab, generator and electrical room. Security will be maintained at the site by a new fence and many cameras.
According to Mayor Dan Dodge, plant supervisor Mike George had been holding the old system together “with Band-Aids” for a long time. Now much of the work that had been done manually will be controlled and monitored by computers.
The three water wells that serve the plant draw from the Biscayne Aquifer in a zone that shows no signs of salt water intrusion, Rabideau said.
The treated water goes into two storage tanks at the plant and one large one at town hall that holds 750,000 gallons.
Normal water use for the town’s 5,000 residents is between 650,000 and 950,000 gallons a day.
On peak days it can go over a million gallons, but that amount is way below the 2.25 million gallons a day the new plant is capable of producing and which has been allotted to Hillsboro Beach by the South Florida Water Management District.
As is true of other South Florida cities, the local water far exceeds the quality offered in bottled brands. “This meets Environmental Protection Agency standards,” Rabideau said. “Bottled water only has to meet Food and Drug Administration standards, and then it could have been sitting in a warehouse for a year.”
Next on a laundry list of improvements to the water supply is increasing the water pressure.
Initial estimates to replace the aging pipe system on the barrier island run around $5 million, but that’s a figure Mayor Dodge is not willing to confirm.
Nor will he speculate on how to pay for the project. “Let’s see what the cost is,“ he said. “It will probably be discussed at the next commission meeting.”