■ BY BONNIE PRINGLE, GASPARILLA ISLAND WATER ASSOCIATION
The Gasparilla Island Water Association is wrapping up Phases I and II of our much-needed wastewater treatment facility rehabilitation on The Gasparilla Inn golf course. To minimize the impact on golfers, our lease with The Inn allows construction of the new facilities between May 1 and November 15.
Phase I included the installation of a new 600 KW generator, associated power control center and underground electric, new upgraded electric service from FP&L, clearing and earthwork, and relocating underground electric lines and water and sewer piping to free the site for new tanks. Phase I should have been completed last fall, but due to significant delivery delays of our new generator and our new electric service from FP&L, this phase was not completed until this summer.
Without the temporary bridge in place, delivery of the generator turned out to be a very big challenge due to weight limits on the golf course bridge. In order to transport the generator to the site while still under weight limits, it was shipped in two deliveries of three pieces – 8050-gallon fuel tank, generator and enclosure – but the delivery trucks still exceeded the bridge weight limits. The responsibility for unloading to smaller trucks at 7th Street and transporting them to our site on the golf course fell on Gulf States Electric (GSE).
GSE pulled together a team that successfully got the job done, including Bowe’s Tractor Service, Florida Utility Solutions and DNJ Crane Services. The most challenging of the three pieces was the generator fuel tank, which weighed over of 22,000 lbs. and with its width, barely made it across the bridge within inches of the guardrails. DNJ had to utilize two cranes to set the unit in place, because a crane that could lift the fuel tank alone weighed too much to cross the bridge.
Phase II work completed this summer included the installation of our temporary bridge, which was completed in July. We had hoped to install new tanks this summer as well, but it was determined that the time remaining after the bridge was complete and the end of our construction season was simply too short for such a large project, especially during the rainy season; therefore, this has been postponed until next summer.
The temporary bridge was still put to good use this summer. Earthwork for the location of the new tanks that will be constructed next summer required the temporary bridge added capacity to transport construction equipment to the site. GIWA also utilized the added weight limits for maintenance work, which turned out to be a cost saving to GIWA. The center span of the bridge will be removed on November 13 and stored until May 1, 2020.
Phase III, scheduled for next summer, now includes the installation of two new holding tanks and associated equipment. GIWA plans to have a contractor in place ready to begin work May 1, 2020. The first tank will be put in service immediately, while the second will be used with our new state- of-the-art treatment equipment that will be installed as part of Phase IV in the summer of 2021. Your new plant will meet current as well as future anticipated regulations. Plans for Phase IV also include the removal of old steel tanks and the construction of two additional concrete tanks.
Some of our initial construction costs have come in higher than originally estimated. We will have a better handle on actual total costs in early 2020, when bids will be received for Phases III and IV.
We are scheduled to implement our fourth rate increase that is not to exceed 9.5 percent. Your Board of Directors has carefully reviewed our financial statements and decided that with the likelihood of increasing construction costs and interest rates, the full 9.5 percent is necessary this year and will become effective with the October, 2019 bills.
Once bids are received and we have a better understanding of total costs, GIWA will have a rate analyst review our financial statements and determine if the full 9.5 percent final rate increase approved for 2020 is necessary or if a lower rate will be sufficient for GIWA to maintain sound financial conditions by meeting existing and future annual debt service and financial covenants. The rate increases have also helped us maintain adequate funding for operation and maintenance of the water and wastewater systems,, including several renewals and replacements.
GIWA will be replacing aging clay gravity sewer lines on Gasparilla Street beginning November 4, 2019. DeJong Excavating Contractors, Inc. has been contracted to complete this project.
The clay gravity sewer lines have been in service since 1972 and have numerous cracks and defects. Sewage does not flow out of the cracks and defects, but they allow copious amounts of rainwater to enter the sewer system during heavy rainfall events, which can overload our wastewater treatment plant. They can also allow root intrusion which results in sewer back-ups.
The new gravity sewer lines and new manholes will be installed in the middle of the road. This will require removal of the asphalt for excavations as deep as eight feet and a pump to remove groundwater, which will be discharged into the street’s drainage swales.
This project is expected to take approximately four weeks to complete and will result in daily road closures at the excavation site, requiring homes east of the excavation to use Baily Street for access. Once the pipe is replaced, the trench will be filled with road base material, allowing traffic to travel until pavement is restored.
GIWA apologizes for any inconveniences this project may cause and wants to assure our members that this is a much-needed improvement for the efficiency of the operations of our sewer system.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Bonnie Pringle, Utility Director, at 964-2423.