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Construction of giant Crystal Lagoon swimming pool in Wesley Chapel finally begins after delays

A Crystal Lagoon something like this one in Chile is being built in Wesley Chapel. Photo courtesy Crystal Lagoons.
A Crystal Lagoon something like this one in Chile is being built in Wesley Chapel. Photo courtesy Crystal Lagoons.
Published Dec. 15, 2016

Wesley Chapel — After two years of holdups, workers have broken ground on a 7.5-acre pool called a Crystal Lagoon on old farmland a couple of miles east of Interstate 75.

Contractors have cleared several acres of land off of Overpass and Curley roads. The boomerang-shaped lagoon will be dug out over the next several weeks, and concrete will start being poured in late January, said Metro Development Group president Greg Singleton, the company behind the development.

The pool will be up to eight feet deep, will be the length of five football fields and will hold 16 million gallons of water. The typical 100-acre golf course, by comparison, uses 78.9 million gallons of water in a year, according to figures released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Previous coverage: Construction of giant Crystal Lagoon swimming pool in Wesley Chapel to begin soon

The project was originally criticized for considering using water pumped straight from the aquifer to fill the lagoon, raising sinkhole concerns from nearby residents. Metro Development then intended to purchase water from the county utilities instead, though the developer has said it is reserving the right to find another water source.

Utility officials said the lagoon will be filled at a rate of 300 or 400 gallons a minute over at least 30 days and cost Metro just over $50,000.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud, have approved permits for the project.

The lagoon will be decked out with white sand, a plastic membrane lining and hundreds of sensors and gadgets that help keep the pool clean.

Previous coverage: Whatever happened to plans for that giant Crystal Lagoon pool in Pasco County?

Meanwhile, across the street, workers are laying the groundwork for the residential area of the Epperson development, which will have about 1,500 homes. The lagoon is the main amenity and centerpiece for that $100 million project and will be maintained and managed with homeowners association fees. An underpass intended for golf carts and autonomous, electric vehicles has also been built.

Epperson is expected be a part of the proposed Connected City district, an ultrafast Internet community that will be the first of its kind in the nation, developers say.

Previous coverage: Connected City gets preliminary okay in Pasco

Another Crystal Lagoon is also being built in at Twin Creeks in St. John's County. Uri Man, chief executive of Crystal Lagoon U.S., which licenses the technology and concept to developers, said there are 50 lagoons in different stages of development in the United States.

Epperson is just the first of Metro Development Group's planned lagoons in the Tampa Bay area. In 2017, Singleton said they plan to start construction on another roughly 8-acre lagoon as a part of a 2,500-home development on southern Hillsborough County. Another is being planned for a 1,400-home project in north Fort Myers.

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Metro is even planning to build a fourth lagoon just up the street from the Epperson project, on the northern portion of the Connected City development, on the former Cannon Ranch. That one will be larger-- about 10 to 12 acres, Singleton said.

Construction on the Epperson lagoon is expected to take about 12 months.

Previous coverage: Gigantic swimming pools called Crystal Lagoons coming to Tampa Bay area

Crystal Lagoons was founded in 2007 by Fernando Fischmann, a real estate developer with a biochemistry background who invested millions on a 20-acre lagoon along the Chilean coastline in the mid 1990s. Fischmann spent five years developing the technology that would keep this artificial body of water clean, clear and economical.

With its patented technology, the lagoon has hundreds of sensors and small injectors that add sanitizing chemicals when and where they are needed — a more efficient strategy than a pool, which depends on a higher concentration of chlorine to kill bacteria. If a child were to go to the bathroom in the lagoon, the specific area would be treated with chlorine, leaving it neutralized in minutes. If there is solid waste, the system is designed to make it clump together so that a life guard or staffer can remove it with a skimmer.

Meanwhile, an ultrasonic filtration system helps remove the sand, dirt or other materials that get dragged in.

Contact Alli Knothe at Follow @KnotheA.


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