One of Hillsborough County’s oldest sewage-treatment plants is getting needed repairs, and the aging system could get more relief in the future.
Early last year, Hillsborough County officials said state-mandated upgrades to the Dale Mabry Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant on the outskirts of Carrollwood Village would cost $20 million.
The expensive upgrades are being done over time. “We have a number of projects that have been in place to address immediate repair needs,” said George Cassidy, operations director of Hillsborough County Utilities. “We are fixing things, we have been fixing things, we have programmed repairs in place and we will continue to do that to keep that facility in operating order,” Cassidy said.
Some of the repairs are mandated under a 2011 agreement between the county and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. The pact, which followed an inspection noting defective equipment, requires upgrades.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Cassidy said. “I think the facility right now, for the most part, is in good standing and good repair.”
The “package plant,” built by the Carrollwood Village developers “is every bit of 30 years old,” Cassidy said. Originally designed to process 1 million gallons of raw sewage daily, it was expanded in the mid-1980s to process 3 to 4 million gallons, he said. In the early ‘90s it again was expanded to handle its current capacity of 6 million gallons daily.
“It’s a big plant; there are a lot of moving parts” and, as needed, those parts are repaired and replaced to keep the plant operational, Cassidy said.
“Thirty years ago, when electricity was cheap and water was cheap and easy to come by, it was fashionable to build lots of treatment plants in and around the area you needed them in,” so the county adopted a sub-regional approach. There are four treatment plants in the northwest part of the county, three in central and southern Hillsborough County.
“With the never-ending increasing cost of electricity, you have to look at opportunities to take advantage of an economy of scale. I think you can do things more effectively at one plant than you can at several plants,” Cassidy said.
“Longer term, we’re evaluating some other options that may include ultimately bypassing a lot of that facility and going to another plant with the lions’ share of the flow. But that’s all preliminary,” he said.
“Every once in a while we get an odor complaint,” he said. “Other than that, we don’t get any complaints about the facility.”