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Long-planned sewer plant expansion draws new concerns by Hernando neighbors

Hernando County will hold a public information meeting Dec. 3 on the plans.
The Hernando County Utilities Department will host an open house Dec. 3 on plans to expand a county wastewater treatment plant. [Barbara Behrendt]
The Hernando County Utilities Department will host an open house Dec. 3 on plans to expand a county wastewater treatment plant. [Barbara Behrendt]
Published Nov. 18

BROOKSVILLE — As Hernando County prepares to expand its wastewater treatment facility at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, residents of nearby Trillium are speaking out.

Some have received notice of land-use changes required for the next phase of the plant, which has been in operation for 20 years.

A couple of residents appeared at the county Planning and Zoning Commission this month to share concerns about health impacts and other negative effects on their community.

Resident Larry Clifton said about 1,000 homes would feel the effects and that not everyone got notices of the previous meetings. He expressed concern that "it sounds pretty much a done deal.''

Residents have collected more than 500 signatures on a petition urging the county to move the plant.

"We decided on Trillium after not only falling in love with our home, but after falling in love with the community: the sidewalks and beautiful community pool, the playground and open space,'' the petition says. "We fell in love with the lifestyle it promised: late night walks, afternoons biking and swimming at the pool. Wonderful things that would quickly be stunted by the plans put forth for the treatment plant.''

County officials plan to provide detailed information at an open house from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. December 3 at the Hernando County Utilities Department office, 15365 Cortez Boulevard. Residents can provide public comments during the session.

The property, north of Trillium, was zoned for the utility in 1993. The upgrade is slated for the north end of the property and will increase plant capacity from 3.5 million gallons of wastewater per day to 6 million gallons.

At the southern end of the property, the county will build new ponds to "allow reclaimed water to filter into the ground and recharge the aquifer, helping to maintain minimum flows and levels in Hernando County lakes and springs,'' according to the county’s press release. The county plans to leave a 120-foot tree buffer along the south, east and west sides of the site, the release said.

Scrubbers to remove odor have been in place on the site and will continue to do that job. County workers at the plant have reported no health issues, the release said.

Officials told residents at the planning commission meeting that the county must meet more stringent state rules on nitrogen levels in treated wastewater. They also need the plant expansion to serve new housing areas permitted in that portion of the county. The county also has long planned to pipe wastewater to the plant from the malfunctioning treatment plant on Osowaw Boulevard in Spring Hill, which would be closed.

Work on the expanded plant is expected to be done by 2023.

Contact the Hernando County Utilities Department at (352) 754-4037 for information on the project or the open house.

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