Advanced wastewater treatment could be coming to Sarasota County
Sarasota County leaders have agreed in principle to dramatically upgrade a faulty wastewater treatment plant east of Interstate 75, blamed for spilling millions of gallons of polluted water and potentially contributing to area water quality problems for years.
The County Commission unanimously agreed at a budget workshop Wednesday to develop plans for converting the Bee Ridge Wastewater Reclamation Facility to have advanced wastewater treatment capability, a move the county’s critics on the issue have long sought. The public utilities staff, commissioners decided, will report to the commission in August with a timeline and cost projections for upgrading the 12-million-gallon-per-day facility on Lorraine Road to an 18-million-gallon advanced facility. The transformation would significantly reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in treated water — two key pollutants that can fuel harmful algae growth in waterways. Officials cited a ballpark cost of $65 million to $100 million for the project.
Advanced wastewater treatment was a hot topic earlier this month at the county’s Water Quality Summit, where science-based solutions were discussed by experts and members of the community alike in an effort to improve the area’s water quality. While some county officials seemed receptive to the idea despite the high projected cost, others leaned toward transferring as many people from septic systems to central sewers for wastewater disposal as the most effective way to combat water quality problems.