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City of Largo nailing down final $60 million piece of sewer system overhaul

LARGO — For more than a decade, several projects have been in the works to overhaul the city’s wastewater plant in an effort to cut down on sanitary sewer overflows, accommodate population growth, replace deteriorated infrastructure and make discharged waste cleaner and safer.

City officials say the last of those long and expensive projects is moving forward as staff work to finalize its design and secure a $60.2 million loan from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Engineering Services Director Jerald Woloszynski said the biological treatment improvements project, which will provide upgrades to the portion of the plant where bacteria and enzymes break down sewage, has two main goals.

The first is to improve the plant’s ability to remove nitrogen from the waste stream discharged into Old Tampa Bay via Feather Sound.

Nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to harmful and expensive health and environmental conditions, such as algae blooms and fish kills, so the city has been under a DEP administrative order since 2012 to come up with a way to reduce the amount it discharges.

"If there was ever a project that we do here at the city that benefits the environment, this is the project to highlight," Woloszynski said. "Basically, we’re committed to reducing the nitrogen going into Tampa Bay."

The second goal is to replace or rehabilitate aging components of the facility, raise or harden portions of the treatment system that are susceptible to flood damage and storm surge, and enhance safety features for personnel.

Woloszynski said the improvements will be the final piece in fully restoring the plant, because the city is wrapping up the $25 million headworks project, which includes a 5 million-gallon holding tank, and the disinfection and influent pumping project, which includes upgrades to the pumping system and aims to ensure treated effluent meets water quality standards.