ALACHUA – The City of Alachua officially opened its new advanced water reclamation facility, inviting the public to a grand opening Thursday at the 233-acre wastewater treatment plant on NW 126th Terrace.

Public Services Director Mike New said the open invitation gave “people the chance to come in and see what they got from their investment.”

The new wastewater facility uses different technology than the old plant to make reclaiming water a more viable option.  In the new system, the wastewater is biologically cleaned and more nutrients are removed from the effluent.  The updated system also increases the volume of reclaimed water available for irrigation.  The previous 940,000 gallons per day cap on available reclaimed water has been increased to 1.5 million gallons per day with room for expansion up to 4 million gallons per day.

The old facility consisted of two parts, one built in early 1990s and the other in 1976. All the treatment technology was built into one tank that was compartmentalized. Now, stages of treatment have their own dedicated facilities to increase the quality of the final reclaimed water output.

Instead of using steel, which can wear down under the corrosive wastewater and last for 20 to 30 years, the new plant uses materials that have a 40 to 50 year lifespan.

“It's like going from a bicycle to a new car,” New said.

The new facility is more energy efficient, has increased longevity and lower maintenance costs, New said.

Residents are picking up about $7 million of the total project cost which rings in at about $23 million.  Nearly $2 million was spent on design and planning while actual construction accounted for some $21 million.  The majority of the costs were funded through federal grants and state appropriations.

Many of the invitees to the grand opening were participants in the project, New said, and the opening was a chance to show the outside world the city's accomplishments.

The plant is located at 13700 NW 126 Terrace near Progress Corporate Park.