Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo's wastewater has excess dissolved organic matter

LARGO — The water appears clear, according to Irvin Kety, director of the city's Environmental Services Department, but there's something in it. Some things, actually. Dissolved bits of plants and other organic material that interfere with ultraviolet light that otherwise would disinfect the water.

And though you can't see it in the water, the stuff could make Largo's pricey wastewater system upgrades even more expensive. But Kety is optimistic it won't.

"We are on budget, and we are on schedule," he told the City Commission at Tuesday night's work session.

Kety and city engineer Leland Dicus are overseeing a $13.6 million project to replace the system that disinfects Largo's wastewater before it's pumped into Tampa Bay or sent out to reclaimed water customers. The project is part of an estimated $73 million overhaul of the city's sewer system necessitated by a 2006 consent order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for city violations of federal and state regulations.

Largo is taking on the overhaul piece by piece, and this year, Kety and Dicus are focused on replacing the system that disinfects wastewater. Largo's Wastewater Reclamation Facility uses chlorine to disinfect the water, then sulfur dioxide to remove the chlorine before the water leaves the facility.

While disinfecting the water, though, chlorine also creates a little byproduct with a big name — bromodichloromethane — that experts say is harmful to animals and may cause cancer in humans. Largo discharged wastewater with too much of the byproduct from May 2001 through March 2005, and Dicus told commissioners Tuesday the city is still struggling to get its wastewater within regulatory limits.

To fix this problem, Largo will replace the old disinfectant system with a new one that uses ultraviolet light. Unfortunately, as Dicus and Kety explained to the City Commission on Tuesday, Largo's wastewater has too much dissolved organics in it.

While they're not visible, the organics can cause the UV light to twist and bend as it travels through the water, inhibiting its disinfecting powers. Greeley and Hansen, an environmental engineering firm Largo is paying $2.8 million to design the new system and accompanying pumps, will test various methods to reduce the amount of dissolved organics in the city's wastewater later this summer.

If the engineers can't come up with a solution, then the new system will need more UV lamps and rack up a bigger electric bill. But Kelly and Dicus are optimistic that won't happen.

Dicus told commissioners Tuesday that there is contingency built in to the original $13.6 million price estimate, but he did not guarantee the price wouldn't go up. Dicus will be back in front of them in January with the final design. The new system is scheduled to be built in 2013 and be operational in 2014.

"We will have a much better understanding of the cost when we come back in January," Dicus said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or [email protected]

Largo's wastewater has excess dissolved organic matter 07/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Massive crocodile seen roaming the streets, and there was only 1 thing a cop could do


    Name one thing you really don't want to see around 4 a.m. walking around your neighborhood.

    Watch out for that croc.

    A crocodile was seen roaming a street in Miami-Dade.
  3. Pinellas County Sheriff's employee resigns under investigation related to domestic violence arrest


    LARGO — A civilian Pinellas County Sheriff's Office employee resigned Tuesday while under an internal investigation that began after he was arrested on domestic battery charges.

    Joshua Volz resigned Tuesday from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He had been under investigation after he was arrested for domestic battery, according to police. [Pinellas County Jail]
  4. Mom accused of burying guns after fatal teen shooting declines plea deal


    TAMPA — The Valrico mother accused of hiding the guns after her teenage son shot and killed another boy in their garage told a judge Tuesday that she wants a trial, not a plea deal.

    Heidi Quinn is accused of hiding two guns after her son, Cody, fatally shot 17-year-old Jayquon Johnson in their garage. She faces charges of tampering with evidence. Her son was not charged in Johnson's death because authorities ruled it self-defense. He does face related drug charges. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Stone says no coordination between Trump campaign and Russia

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone said Tuesday he's "aware of no evidence whatsoever" that Trump's campaign coordinated with Russians during the 2016 election.