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Sarasota County Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility Expansion: The Largest MBR Project in Florida

Authors: Jody Barksdale, PE

Currents: Volume 2, 2022

Currents 2022 Volume 2

This innovative capacity expansion and conversion project to advanced wastewater treatment (AWT) with membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology will produce reliable, high-quality reclaimed water for Sarasota County, Florida. 

Sarasota County owns and operates the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility (BRWRF), a secondary wastewater treatment facility designed to produce 12 million gallons per day (mgd) of reclaimed water. In 2020, the County embarked on a monumental effort to expand this facility’s capacity to 18 mgd and upgrade its processes to meet Florida AWT standards.

This BRWRF Expansion and AWT Conversion Project is a direct response to the many needs stemming from a growing region in Southwest Florida. However, even as service demands increase and existing assets age, the County must adhere to regulatory treatment and discharge requirements that become more stringent with each passing year. All the while, the County remains committed to implementing actionable measures that protect their local waterbodies, which are vital to the state’s overall quality of life, health, and economy.

Innovative Solutions to Meet Project Needs

The project applies innovative, yet cost-efficient, solutions that prioritize sustainability. By expanding and enhancing to AWT, the BRWRF will be capable of reliably serving growing communities with high-quality treated water that offsets groundwater withdrawals and reduces concentrations of nutrients (e.g., phosphorous and nitrogen) that are discharged to the environment. With improved effluent quality, the County can confidently comply with current and future regulations while gaining flexibility in their water reuse options, which now include the sustainable use of reclaimed water for irrigation, potential local aquifer recharge, and eventually positions them for indirect potable reuse.

The County retained Carollo as the engineer for this project to be delivered through construction manager at risk (CMAR). This alternative project delivery approach was selected to expedite the project schedule and meet the County’s goal of planning, designing, and building this enhanced facility by the end of 2025.

After assessing numerous treatment alternatives, Carollo and the County selected the AWT MBR technology. When completed, it will be the largest MBR plant in Florida. Additionally, Carollo’s design leveraged the sustainability and resiliency framework from Envision®, a tool developed by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure that guides project teams on sustainable infrastructure practices

Nearly half of the project’s $219 million costs will be financed by an EPA Water Infrastructure Finance and
Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan.

Read more of this issue of Currents: Currents: Volume 2, 2022