The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) was called into action after Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola, Fla., in September 2004. The town was battered by winds in excess of 100 mph and storm surges of 15 ft or more. To make matters worse, the Main Street Water Treatment Plant was one of the casualties, losing power for three days during this critical period. As a result, storm water, storm surge and raw sewage flooded portions of the downtown area.
While this turn of events underscored the need for improved facilities, plans already were in the works. Numerous areas of the plant—some of which were part of the original 1970s construction—were not up to the specifications of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and needed to be addressed.
These requirements, combined with the assurance of more hurricanes down the line, prompted ECUA officials to take action. They quickly came up with a plan to build a modernized, hurricane-resistant wastewater treatment facility outside the city.
Site selection was the first key element to consider. The new plant would need to be built at an elevation beyond the reach of a Category 5 storm surge, and near possible reuse sources for the treated wastewater. Project planners ultimately chose a location just outside of Cantonment, Fla., 15 to 20 miles inland from Pensacola.
WesTech Eng. was brought in as the manufacturer. They installed four OxyStream oxidation ditches, a five-step treatment system for activated sludge. The new facility also features a pair of Clarifier Optimization Package clarifiers. By the time the facility was completed in August 2010, it was officially the largest public works project in the history of Escambia County, Fla.
“As this project provides 100% reuse water for two neighboring industrial facilities at a total design for 23 million gal per day, we believe this project is in a class of its own,” said John Richens, WesTech group leader, process applications. “[We are] proud to be a part of such a monumental project that will make such a huge positive impact to the environment.”