About South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility
In Florida, management of water is especially important. How we use, conserve and manage our water supply will greatly affect our quality of life now and, even more so, in the future.
In Pinellas County, Florida’s most densely populated county, residents and government work together to conserve water to make efficient use of all water resources. Water reclamation helps to “get more mileage” out of available water resources. Making people aware of the need to reclaim wastewater and recycle its by-products will help Pinellas County to sustain the high quality of life enjoyed by residents and over 6 million annual visitors.
Facts about South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility
It is a permitted advanced wastewater treatment facility utilizing a tertiary treatment process. This advanced treatment enables the treated wastewater to be released in nearby Joe’s Creek as long as it meets the permitted regulations. However, it is the ultimate goal for 100% of the reclaimed water to be used for irrigation purposes. Chlorine is used to disinfect the treated wastewater and is later neutralized prior to discharge into Joe’s Creek if neccessary.
The original plant was built in the 1960s. In 2003, a $143 million dollar renovation was completed within the 35 acre site.
The facility is designed for an average flow of 33 million gallons a day. It takes approximately 16 hours for one gallon of wastewater to be treated. This time period is lengthened if the water is recycled somewhere along the process. The collection and removal of the solids or sludge takes between 12-13 days. This sludge is then processed into fertilizer pellets that takes approximately three more weeks. The goal is to recycle 100% of the influent wastewater and 95% of the biosolids (digested sludge). The methane gas that is produced during the digestion process is used as a portion of the fuel source in the dryer where the biosolids are dried to produce fertilizer pellets.
This flow diagram shows the path of the water as it progresses through the advanced wastewater treatment process used at the South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility.
The water treatment process requires four steps. The primary treatment phase eliminates large solid materials. The secondary treatment phase uses microorganisms to break down smaller solids. The tertiary treatment phase eliminates unwanted nitrogen-based compounds and finely suspended particles. The disinfection phase uses chlorine to eliminate disease-causing organisms.
By the end of the four step process, the water is 99.9 % pure. Part of the treated water goes out as reclaimed water to be used by communities primarily for irrigation purposes. The remainder of the water is released into nearby Joe’s Creek. The water that is released into the creek receives additional treatment. The chlorine is removed (neutralized) through the addition of sulfur dioxide. The release water is also re-aerated to enrich it with additional oxygen through the use of a cascade system.
The sludge, or biosolids, that is removed during the water treatment process undergoes additional stages of treatment and is processed into a very high grade organic fertilizer that is sold on the commercial market.