A decorative wall, abundant plantings and attractive roofs help a reclamation plant integrate with homes, businesses, parks and a county courthouse.
It’s not easy to hide a wastewater treatment plant in the middle of a city. Just ask Dave Peters, assistant director of Public Works for the city of Stuart, Florida.
“The biggest compliment anyone can give us is to say ‘I didn’t know a wastewater treatment plant was behind that wall,’” says Peters.
An 8-foot-high precast concrete decorative wall now surrounds the plant’s 3.5-acre site. Painted earthen gray and highlighted with beige borders, it includes 127 sections, each 20 feet long, joined at square columns painted beige and capped with decorative covers. The wall was part of a major upgrade project in 2010.
Landscaping also plays a big part in integrating the 4 mgd conventional activated sludge plant with the surrounding residential and business neighborhood. Existing trees and vegetation were complemented by strategic plantings of 19 little gem magnolia trees, 12 dahoon holly trees, 40 sabal palm and 17 royal palm trees, 164 firebush plants, nearly 350 trinette plants, and 141 saw palmetto trees.
More than 160 awabuki hedge plants grow between the fence and nearby roadways and walkways. Some taller trees block the view of the plant from the three-story county courthouse complex that adjoins and overlooks the plant.
Enhancing the view from above are attractive roofs on the digester and on the chlorine contact and blower buildings. The biosolids and maintenance buildings were re-roofed to match the new roofs’ color. An odor-control system improves the overall environment. “We made it look like something it wasn’t,” says Peters. But the biggest part of winning community acceptance was transforming the facility from a wastewater treatment plant into a water reclamation facility.
Compatible with parks
Siemens LVN chlorinators and Kruger disc filters were added. Nearly 5 miles of 16-inch piping carries effluent to an interconnect with a utility for irrigation of golf courses and residential neighborhoods. Two 200 hp Peerless pumps move the effluent and are controlled by Cutler-Hammer variable-frequency drives (Eaton) with Allen-Bradley controllers (Rockwell Automation).
Being a good neighbor to the courthouse is important, Peters says, but so is neighborliness to the baseball complex that borders one side of the plant and a large public park on another side. Also attracting residents and visitors are a bandstand and a large pavilion; racquetball, shuffleboard and tennis courts; paved walkways and picnic areas; and a large Veterans Memorial Monument.
Plant staff members conduct frequent tours of the reclamation facility. “Visitors and those who use the amenities of the parks often comment on the attractive appearance of the plant,” says Peters. He’s proud of his staff and the more than a dozen awards they have won over the years, but the best recognition is not getting negative feedback from the residents.
“I guess it’s out of sight, out of mind.”