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Polk County Utilities’ Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility Honored For Innovation, Fiscal Responsibility, and Conservation


Published on Jul 1, 2020


BARTOW, FL (July 1, 2020) - Winner of several national awards, the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility was the cover story in “Treatment Plant Operator Magazine.” Located in Mulberry, the plant serves a number of communities in Polk County. Every drop of wastewater that enters the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment facility is recycled through a 41-mile piping system and then used either for irrigation at more than 1,800 homes, two golf courses, and a park; or, is used as cooling water at Tampa Electric Company.

Innovation

Using a floating UV balls (shade balls) supplied by Environmental Controls Company, wastewater is shielded from the sun’s UV rays. This results in cooler water temperature which in turn limits the evaporation of chlorine as well as minimizes the growth of algae. The facility also transitioned from a dissolved oxygen control to an oxidation reduction potential control which allows the aerators to run at slower speeds - saving energy and further reducing nitrogen and ammonia..

Fiscal Responsibility

The reduced chlorine demand from these process innovations saves the county more than $30,000 per year. Using the same UV ball technology at all three regional plants has saved $450,000 on chlorine over the past five years.

Conservation

At 100% reuse, the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility reduces the demand for potable water, recharges the wetlands and provides habitat for wildlife.

“We received the 2018 David W. York Reuse Award from the Florida Water Environment Association and the 2018 Plant of the Year award from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” says Tamara Richardson, Director of Polk County Utilities. “To win the 2018 Safety Award from the Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association means just as much to us. It’s proof that you can provide innovative, cost effective, environmentally conscious wastewater services safely and effectively. I am so proud of the staff at Polk Utilities.”

Polk County Utilities provides safe drinking water, wastewater collection and treatment systems to nearly 68,000 accounts in unincorporated communities in Polk County. In some service areas, Polk County Utilities also provides reclaimed water services.