Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After years of struggle, Oldsmar water plant breaks ground

OLDSMAR — At times, city officials thought they'd never see the mound of dirt, the shovels, the hard hats.

The road to Friday's ground-breaking of the city's $20 million water treatment plant began more than a decade ago with a question:

Do you think we can develop our own water supply?

Feasibility studies were commissioned. Grants were requested, then denied. Twice, former Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed funds designated for the project. Costs rose.

"I started getting a little worried," Mayor Jim Ronecker said. "I'm watching the costs go from $17 million to $18 million to $20 million and I was like, 'Hey, we don't have the money.' "

The turning point came in 2008, when the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board awarded Oldsmar a more than $9 million grant.

"That $9 million is what put us from the uphill side to 'we can see the end of the road,' " City Manager Bruce Haddock said.

Then 13 months ago, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection followed that up with a check for $3 million.

The money was part of the $217 million awarded to Florida under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The remainder of the cost will be covered by Penny for Pinellas sales tax money.

The water treatment plant is the largest public works project in the city's history. It's also on track to be the first brackish groundwater project cooperatively funded by the district, said Todd Pressman, the chair of Swiftmud's governing board.

Construction at the site, 350 Commerce Blvd., is expected to begin this month and last until spring 2012.

Once complete, the water treatment plant will use reverse osmosis technology to turn brackish water into drinkable water. It could produce up to 2 million gallons of water a day.

"While certainly today is a milestone," Haddock said, "what I'm really looking forward to and I want to right now invite all of you to come back for (is) the ribbon cutting. That will be a big celebration."

Rodney Thrash can be reached at or (727) 445-4167.

After years of struggle, Oldsmar water plant breaks ground 10/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Tribune scholarships inspire students to keep digging for facts



    When the Tampa Tribune launched a scholarship for Hillsborough County's top high school seniors more than 50 years ago, no one could have guessed it would one day be turned over to the newspaper's rival, now called the Tampa Bay Times.

  2. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.

  3. Photos of the week: 20 great images from around the globe


    This week's collection of the most interesting photos from around the world features a silhouetted surfer in France, images of joy and grief from England, a massive landslide in California, a life rescued and a life lost at sea, an image from the final performance of "the greatest show on Earth" and, just for kicks, a …

    BIARRITZ, FRANCE - MAY 24:  Guillermo Satt of Chile in action whilst competing in the Men's Qualifying Round 2 during day five of the ISA World Surfing Games 2017 at Grande Plage  on May 24, 2017 in Biarritz, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
  4. What to watch this weekend: Grateful Dead documentary, 'House of Cards' returns Tuesday


    The Grateful Dead: Long Strange Trip

    Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in Season 5 of House of Cards on Netflix.
  5. Florida TaxWatch calls out $180 million of questionable spending in state budget


    Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee thinktank, has released its annual "budget turkey" list that calls on Gov. Rick Scott to veto nearly $180 million in special projects tucked into the budget, mostly in transportation.

    Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch's vice president for research, presents the organization's 2017 turkey list.