FORT PIERCE—The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority is one step closer to bringing its 20-year-old vision of relocating its aging wastewater treatment plan off Hutchinson Island to fruition.
The Fort Pierce Planning Board last month unanimously approved preliminary plans to relocate the plant to 4515 Energy Lane, west Selvitz Road and adjacent to the Treasure Coast Energy Center.
The total project cost won’t be known for up to three months, according to FPUA officials. FPUA has applied for more than $33 million in government grants to help offset that cost.
Private sector interest: Internspantionspanl compspanny submits unsolicited bid to help relocspante Fort Pierce wspanstewspanter plspannt
Phased approach: $2.5 million will lspanunch 1st phspanse of relocspanting FPUA wspanstewspanter plspannt off Hutchinson Islspannd
Rate hikes: Fort Pierce OKs utility increspanses to help relocspante spanging wspanstewspanter plspannt off lspangoon
The 78,408-square-foot facility, which would cover 25 acres at Treasure Coast Business Park, would include an administration and maintenance building, pump stations, aqua basins and storage tanks.
FPUA expects construction to begin in January and be completed by December 2024.
“We are well under way with the permitting process and submitted a majority of our permit applications in July and August of this year,” FPUA Public Affairs and Sustainability Manager Rachel Tennant said in an email.
Once construction is complete, the facility would become operational in phases, beginning in January 2025. During that time, both wastewater plants would temporarily be operational, with a full transition to the Energy Lane location by December 2026.
FPUA then would demolish the Hutchinson Island plant, according to Tennant.
FPUA customers already are bearing some financial burden for relocating the plant. The city approved 10% increases in water and sewer rates in May. New rates took effect in July and October.
The increases are expected to generate about $7 million annually with half, or $3.5 million, allocated towards relocating the plant.
This approval marks early stages of a landmark project local leaders have long tried to accomplish. Environmental concerns — such as sewage spills into the Indian River Lagoon that can be caused by storm surges during hurricanes or plant malfunctions — are a driving factor behind relocating the 63-year-old plant.
“We need to move it,” said Planning Board Chairman Frank Creyaufmiller at the Sept. 12 meeting. “Whether or not it should’ve been built there in the first place is a different question, but it needs to be moved.”
Demolition of the Hutchinson Island plant, which has gone without updates since 1986, will create opportunities for economic development on prime waterfront land, city officials have said.