As the city of Stuart, Fla., grew over the decades from a small town to a large riverfront community, the wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) never really kept pace. Homes and businesses kept getting built closer to the plant until there was no more room for expansion.
City officials knew they had to do something but were unsure how to proceed. Moving the entire facility would have been one option, but they quickly realized that would be an expensive proposition. There also were concerns about the air quality in and around the facility that relocation would not solve.
The problem persisted for several decades with no clear solution in sight. Then in 2010, the city came upon an answer: Instead of moving the WWTF, it would “hide” the plant from the community, integrating it with the surrounding neighborhood. Work began on a series of projects in May 2010 that would work toward this ultimate goal.
To achieve the goal of integrating the WWTF with its environment, the design team needed to be sure the facility served the community’s needs. For that reason, the WWTF underwent a complete transformation into a water reclamation facility (WRF). As a WRF, the new service could make a direct contribution to the community by providing a high-quality water source.
Once the change was made, the next challenge was creating aesthetic unity with the plant’s neighbors—namely the county courthouse and a sports complex. The design team at Culpepper & Terpening opted to enclose the entire WRF in a decorative precast wall system and install solar lighting and additional landscaping. To conceal the equipment from higher elevations, such as the courthouse next door, designers used 3-D laser scanning to determine roof styles, elevations and colors.
“The city of Stuart is extremely proud to be recognized by Water & Wastes Digest for the city’s WRF,” said David Peters, assistant director for the city of Stuart Department of Public Works. “Faced with the unique challenges of a WRF located in a downtown setting, the city and its consultants have successfully ‘hidden’ the WRF by creating structural features and landscape enhancements that blend the facility with a natural inner-city setting.”