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Bradenton to pursue $6.4M loan to upgrade aging wastewater systems

BRADENTON -- Some of Bradenton's aging wastewater infrastructure is in dire need of upgrades, according to Public Works Director Jim McLellan, who received approval Wednesday from the Bradenton City Council to pursue a low-interest $6.4 million loan from the state.

There are seven projects total, including a $2.3 million upgrade to the wastewater facility's dewatering system, which McLellan said would reduce solid waste volume by 25 percent. The existing belt filter presses were installed in 1983 and parts are no longer readily available. McLellan said every time a part breaks down, which has become more often, the city has to special order the piece, which can take months.

"We recently had one bearing burn out and the special order cost us $8,000," said McLellan. "Clearly we need to do something. It's just not the technology anymore. We did some pilot testing on a new belt filter press that has one moving part and will reduce volume by 25 percent. We were going to propose it in next year's budget and pay for it out of our operating budget, but if we roll it into the loan, that money will no longer be locked up."

Age is a factor in the remaining projects, as well. Other facility improvements include $1.9 million in upgrades to the wastewater facility's oxidation ditches and covers, which were also built 33 years ago. A 1984 force main that crosses the Perico Island causeway also needs replacement for a cost of $1.2 million. McLellan said it's the mile of plastic graded line has experienced multiple failures. The most recent was in December.