Trends Winter 2014 | Page 12

Through ups, downs, and more than a dozen projects, Ayres and one small Florida community maintain a positive partnership that’s stood the test of time By Jennifer Schmidt O n the surface, the City of Palatka, Florida, may come across as an average small community, offering visitors a network of parks, a quaint downtown business district, and a host of historic sites. But a closer look into the City’s inner workings suggests otherwise. Just ask wastewater treatment plant superintendent Brian McCann. A City employee of 22 years, McCann said Palatka has always aspired to be forwardthinking and innovative – case in point being its inventive water reuse project. A rarity at the time All wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove waste products from water, but the City of Palatka’s system takes the process to the next level. The City’s wastewater treatment plant includes an additional filtration and disinfection process that allows the City to irrigate the local golf course, airport, cemeteries, and ball fields with the treated wastewater – also known as reclaimed or reuse water. This way, the water is used for beneficial purposes rather than released into the nearby St. Johns River. An early goal was to see Palatka discharging 100 percent of final effluent – or discharge water – as reuse by 2015, and the City is nearly there. “We have sampling events twice a year that require us to discharge water to the river, so I hate to say 100 percent when I know we have these sampling events coming. But we’re going to be 99.999 percent discharge for reuse,” McCann said. Part of the team Elwin “Woody” Boynton Jr. works as director of the Division of Administrative and Operational Services for the St Johns River Water Management District but served as the City of Palatka’s public works director from 2005 to 2007 and as its city manager from 2008-2012 – a time when Ayres was the primary consultant to the City regarding its wastewater treatment plant operations. 12│TRENDS Shown here is an aerial view of the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Palatka, Florida. TRENDS │13