Holley-Navarre Water System in November 2022 is expected to exceed its effluent discharge capacity, so the board is now considering options to help prevent the utility from having to stop adding additional service connections in the future.
Phil Phillips, the utility’s senior engineer, during a February 19 board meeting advised HNWS directors of the impending threshold, noting the current permitted discharge capacity is 4.405 million gallons of treated effluent per day.
Phillips presented the board with two solutions to increase capacity – a roughly $3.1-million connection, which would allow the transfer of wastewater to a City of Gulf Breeze facility, providing an additional 500,000 gallons per day of capacity, or construction of a rapid infiltration basin system on property located just north of the Holley community and owned by Eglin Air Force Base.
Per Phillips, the Eglin RIBs option would provide around 7 million gallons in total additional daily discharge capacity, and the approximate $11 million cost could potentially be offset by Santa Rosa County’s need for disposal, reducing the project price for the utility to about $8 million.
“There is no doubt the Eglin RIBs is the best solution,” Phillips said also noting that the county has not yet finalized a lease on the Eglin project, and the countdown toward the anticipated November 2022 deadline is ticking.
According to Phillips, who presented a chronological timeline graphic covering the next few years, there is about an 8-month buffer of time to allow for planning, decision making or “wiggle room” during construction.
So board members were encouraged by Phillips to proceed with memorandums of understanding for both options, considering a possible delay in the Eglin project, while still exploring other alternatives to increase capacity.
According to HNWS CEO Rob Williamson, no related rate increases are expected this fiscal year.
“To pay for the infrastructure improvements, we would need to take out a new loan but that would not require a rate increase at this time,” Williamson said.
However, Williamson said the utility is exploring tiered-rate pricing, commonly used by other utilities, to fund the cost of the future improvements. “For example, higher rates could be assessed for customers who use greater volumes during the month.”