Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco set to begin building massive reclaimed water reservoir

The county will build the 500 million-gallon reservoir at a former mine east of Interstate 75 at Boyette and Overpass roads. Residents are being assured it won’t smell like rotten eggs.


The county will build the 500 million-gallon reservoir at a former mine east of Interstate 75 at Boyette and Overpass roads. Residents are being assured it won’t smell like rotten eggs.

WESLEY CHAPEL — It's not exactly a marketer's dream and likely won't show up on a billboard welcoming travelers, but Pasco County will soon lay claim to a landmark all its own: the largest reclaimed water reservoir in the nation.

After years of debate, engineering studies and cost estimates, the county is a couple of weeks from launching a massive excavation project at a former mine east of Interstate 75 at Boyette and Overpass roads.

The 500 million-gallon reservoir was recommended by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a partner in the project, to help control reclaimed water levels through the region's wet and dry spells and enable the system to take on new customers from the county's east and south ends.

Since mid July, workers have been busy draining two ponds and building berms and roads in preparation for the reservoir. To gauge its immensity, imagine a lake of reclaimed water — basically, treated sewage — roughly the size of 60 football fields.

Pam Wright, Pasco's reclaimed water program coordinator, said it's understandable if some folks are put off by the thought, but reclaimed water has come far since its debut 30 years ago in Pinellas County.

"There's still a lot of education that needs to be done," she said. "The misconception is that it smells like rotten eggs. The truth is there's almost no odor. If anything, there's a faint chlorine smell."

At 80 acres and 28 feet deep, the reservoir should be equipped to handle Florida's wet summers while ensuring a steady supply to homes, golf courses and citrus growers during the winter, officials said. About 12,000 homes in two dozen Pasco subdivisions irrigate with reclaimed water. The county produces about 20 million gallons of reclaimed water a day.

Officials have pushed for the reservoir for years. Using reclaimed water reduces stress on the aquifer from groundwater pumping, a trigger for sinkholes. Pinellas, the region's largest consumer, installed the first system in the early 1980s in St. Petersburg. Now, about 10 percent of water consumed across Swiftmud's 16 counties comes from reclaimed water.

Pasco's project is expected to be finished in February 2015. It hasn't come without a hitch, though. Pegged five years ago at $18 million, the project ballooned to $31 million and then $36 million because of higher construction costs and initial estimates that failed to include a much-needed underground wall, or cutoff, to capture seepage.

"That was a huge change," utilities director Bruce Kennedy said. "The original project estimate did not have that in it."

The reservoir itself will be covered by a synthetic liner. A fence and a 14-foot landscaped berm will encircle the site.

Swiftmud has committed to reimburse $9 million to offset the county's costs. In January, the district's board will vote to increase that reimbursement to $18 million in total. Kennedy said the balance of the funding, another $18 million, will come from loans paid by Pasco ratepayers.

Officials are optimistic they'll avoid problems, including sinkholes, that plagued a 20-acre reclaimed water reservoir in Land O'Lakes a few years ago. For one, they say, they've performed more geological tests and determined soil conditions at Boyette are better than at the Land O'Lakes site.

"We've learned a lot since then," Wright said. "When this is done, this will be the largest of its kind in the country."

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco set to begin building massive reclaimed water reservoir 11/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 6:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. With Vegas in mind, officers conduct active shooter training at Tampa International Airport

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Black marked the dead.

    After everyone ran away and was cleared out, two people remained on the ground, playing dead between baggage carousels nine and 10. Firefighters tied black ribbons around their wrists during triage, a quick way to tell other first responders not to waste time on them. Luggage …

    Mock "active shooter" D.J. Colestock, corporal with the Tampa International Airport police, is apprehended by TIA police officer Tom Olsen, right, on Wednesday  during an active shooter training exercise at the airport in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  2. Dirk Koetter, not Jameis Winston, has to make the call


    “Touchdown” Tom Jones, the best Bucs columnist in town, htook it to the house Tuesday when he wrote that Jameis Winston should do the right thing and take a seat if he’s not perfectly healthy to play at Buffalo.

    Whether Jameis Winston plays Sunday or not is Dirk Koetter's call.
  3. This is no time for Jameis Winston to play hero


    Don't be a hero, Jameis.

    Do the right thing. Do what's best.

     Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sits on the bench during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) 700070683
  4. NBA off and running to its usual ending


    The NBA season began Tuesday night.

    It ends in June.

    Call me when the Warriors win.

    True, there was news Tuesday night, bad news, grisly news, as Celtics small forward and newcomer Gordon Hayward dislocated his ankle and broke his tibia in a look-away injury early in Boston’s opener at LeBron.

    Call me when the Warriors win, Martin Fennelly writes.
  5. It's time for the Dodgers to be back in the World Series


    It’s hard to believe that it’s been 29 years since the Los Angeles Dodgers made the World Series. That’s far too long. I still remember being at Chavez Ravine for the 1988 World Series, watching Kirk Gibson homer into the right field stands to beat the Oakland A’s in Game 1.

    Been a long …

    The Los Angeles Dodgers congratulate each other after beating the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series