District, Putnam County complete wastewater treatment plant rebuild to protect Dunns Creek water quality

New wastewater treatment station
New and old wastewater treatment station

The St. Johns River Water Management District and Putnam County partnered on a $2.5 million project to replace the Paradise Point wastewater treatment plant, as shown in before (left) and after (right) photos of a portion of the project.

PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 12, 2019 — The St. Johns River Water Management District and Putnam County have completed a $2.5 million cost-share project to replace the Paradise Point wastewater treatment plant, reducing nutrient loading to Dunns Creek and protecting water quality in the St. Johns River system.

“Partnering on projects with local governments who share our water resource protection goals makes good sense,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We are pleased to cost-share on great projects to protect water quality in the St. Johns River and its tributaries, and it is especially rewarding when the project is right here in the county where our district headquarters is located.”

“This project and partnership between the district and Putnam County has been a notable milestone in the advancement of our county,” said Interim Public Works Director Mike Nimitz. “The environmental, economic and standard of living improvements this project will deliver are invaluable to our community. We applaud the district for their critical and instrumental role in the delivery of this project and look forward to completing many more projects together.”

The project involved removing the 30-year-old Paradise Point wastewater treatment plant in the San Mateo area of East Palatka and replacing it with a new pump station and force main system to convey wastewater to Putnam County’s existing master pump station on Yelvington Road. Wastewater from the master pump station is then conveyed to the East Putnam Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, located on Gilbert Road. The five-mile main also enables future tie-ins to the system.

By removing the aging plant’s treated effluent discharges to Dunns Creek, the project will reduce total nitrogen loading by approximately 270 pounds per year and total phosphorus loading by approximately 45 pounds per year into Dunns Creek. An overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus contribute to the frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms.

In 2016, the old plant was flooded in Hurricane Matthew, damaging its electrical and mechanical components and causing the facility to overload and fail. The new plant is built at a higher elevation, reducing the potential for illicit discharges to Dunns Creek.

The district contributed $2 million toward the project through its cost-share funding program supporting water resource protection projects in economically disadvantaged Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) communities or innovative projects districtwide. Projects support one or more of the district’s core missions of water supply, including water conservation; water quality protection or nutrient load reduction; natural systems restoration; or flood protection.

For information about district cost-share programs, visit the district’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding/.