As you pass over the Jolly Bridge exiting Marco Island, you’ll notice considerable activity and machinery located off to the right of the roadway. Work has begun to extend the necessary piping across the Marco River for a project that will bring potable water over to the mainland and send raw wastewater back to what is known as the North Utility Plant. That wastewater will be treated, and the processed wastewater will be utilized as re-use water for irrigation.
When the city purchased the assets of Florida Water Services, the municipality also acquired the responsibility for the small utility plant that serviced Marco Shores, Tropical Schooner and the Hammock Bay area. That would also include any of the properties yet to be developed in that area which would be serviced by the newly-created Marco Utility Services.
Upon the completion of this new project, the operation of the old plant, which is quickly approaching its usable lifespan, will be decommissioned. That wastewater will now flow back to the North Utility Plant on the island to be processed.
As part of that overall project, the city will also be providing fresh drinking water to that area from its own sources, discontinuing the necessity for purchasing potable water from Collier County to meet its contracted responsibilities.
Some of the monies required for this project were the result of the early efforts of the city’s lobbyist, Ron Book. Book was hired during the 2014-15 budget cycle on the request of former City Manager Roger Hernstadt. Through the lobbyist’s efforts in 2015, a state grant of $400,000 was obtained for partial funding of engineering costs for this project, and recognition of the future requirement to replace the old plant.
In addition, the Utilities Advisory Committee saw the practicality of providing potable water to that area from the Marco Utility, rather than purchasing it from Collier County.
During the first year of the lobbyist’s efforts, an additional windfall of $100,000 was raised to help with a stormwater project in the Tahiti, Bayport and Bald Eagle area.
The next budget cycle in 2015-16, another $750,000 was raised for the Marco Shores Alternate Water Solution Project to help defer construction costs. The remainder of the funding will come from the rate structure based upon projected revenues.
Presently, only Le Peninsular and Twin Dolphin Condominiums along with some businesses on Isle of Capri are hooked into the Marco Island Waste Water Utility. All the area down Mainsail Drive, to include Hammock Bay, Tropical Schooner Condos and the Marco Executive Airport are serviced by the agreement with the City of Marco Island.
The machinery seen at the foot of the south side of the Jolly Bridge will be utilized for the directional drilling operation. That operation will find a 16” pipe for wastewater at its widest diameter being installed that will carry product back to the island for treatment and utilized for reuse water. Another 20” pipe at its widest diameter will carry fresh water out to the Mainsail area for those customers’ potable drinking water needs.
That technology involves drilling under the riverbed. They will then pull the pipes from the north side of the bridge back to the southside. The 16” and 20” pipes will be bored separately. The contractors are presently involved in laying out the pipe and welding the sections together.
When the project comes on-line, the existing treatment facilities will be decommissioned, and the facilities dismantled. Presently those facilities do not create “reclaimed water,” but instead it is only treated to an “effluent” status. That water is then pumped out to three “rapid infiltration ponds,” where it is then returned into the ground through a natural percolation process.
Once the entire operation is finished the Marco Island City Council will be faced with a decision of how that property will be disposed of, and if sold, what those monies would be allocated for within the city’s water/wastewater utility.
The rationale given for proceeding in this manner had three major talking points:
- Eliminate the need to rebuild the waste/water treatment facility presently servicing that area. That would cost approximately $4 million.
- Eliminate the need to operate that second facility, maintain it and man it.
- The option to realize a return of cash for the sale of that property on Mainsail Drive which would no longer be needed as the plant is being decommissioned and the additional 43 acres housing the rapid infiltration.
It is anticipated that the project would go online sometime close to the end of 2019.