Natural Wonders and Manmade Marvels
Manatee County’s water storage tanks are a key component in the performance of its water reclamation system.
By John Novaria
Unspoiled beaches, wildlife preserves and turquoise waters attract visitors to destinations like Manatee County on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Situated about 45 miles southwest of Tampa, the area dials you back to a simpler time before high-rise condos, superhighways and mega theme parks. Towns like Anna Maria, Bradenton, Holmes Beach, Palmetto and Longboat Key are long on charm and beauty.
A lush environment like this requires water to thrive, and prudent management of that water is essential. Manatee County takes its water management seriously, including the methods it uses to recycle wastewater for irrigation and other non-potable uses.
The county’s 5,300 reclaimed water customers include golf courses, parks and playgrounds, landscape areas, highway medians and rights-of-way, and farms. Other uses include toilet flushing and fire protection. About 62 percent of the wastewater generated in the county is reused in the reclaimed water system.
Manatee County has three water reclamation facilities that can operate at a combined capacity of up to 33.5 million gallons per day. The reclaimed water distribution system consists of approximately 943,276 linear feet (179 miles) of county-owned transmission mains, two booster pump stations, and one re-pump station. A 30-inch transmission main interconnects the county’s three service areas with smaller distribution mains within the service areas.
With so much riding on the performance of its water reclamation system, Manatee County turns to proven providers like CST and Florida Aquastore for its liquid storage needs. The relationship dates back to 2007, when the county replaced an aging welded steel tank at its North Water Reclamation Facility with a glass-fused-to-steel Aquastore tank. That set a precedent for five additional tank purchases.
“One of the main reasons Florida Aquastore won the original bid is they were able to retrofit their tank to bolt onto our original concrete slab,” said Brent Laudicina, lead operator of North County WRF. “We were impressed with their flexibility because they did exactly what we asked instead of saying they could only do it one way.”
At six million gallons, Manatee County has the distinction of having the most Aquastore storage in the entire state of Florida. The county’s first Aquastore measured 98’ x 19’ with a capacity of 1 million gallons and is used for sludge storage. In 2013, it replaced two more welded tanks with two Aquastore tanks — also for sludge storage — and ordered three more in 2017 for storage of influent (raw sewage) as part of an upgrade of the facility.
“The consulting engineer, Kimley Horn, came to us and asked for a tank configuration that provided three million gallons of storage,” said Peter Boccagna, sales manager at Florida Aquastore for the state of Florida. “A tank of that capacity typically has a wide diameter but they had a narrow footprint to work with, so it wouldn’t fit. After discussions with the engineers, they decided to put in three 1-million-gallon equalization tanks in a tight alignment and the result was a perfect fit.”
Aquastore tanks can be built in close proximity to each other; in fact, the three equalization tanks sit just five feet apart from one another. Unlike other liquid storage tanks, an Aquastore tank is built using a series of mechanical jacks that are safe and fast and allow the tank to use a smaller footprint than traditional steel or concrete tank erection. First, the top ring of panels is assembled, then lifted up to make room for the next ring, and so on.
“It’s cool to watch them go up,” said Laudicina. “Those tanks went up in two weeks, tops. Construction was simple and they made very few if any special requests of us.”
Aquastore’s glass-fused-to steel technology is a leader in water and liquid storage. More than 100,000 have been installed for numerous applications in over 70 countries around the world. It’s corrosion resistant and built to withstand the hot Florida sun, humidity and salt air, and retains its brilliant luster for decades, which means it doesn’t have to be repainted. Lifecycle costs are some of the lowest in the industry, with minimal maintenance required.
“We can’t tell our oldest tank from the new ones,” said Laudicina. “They look amazing. The Aquastore has a more contemporary look that gives the plant an overall look of sophistication.”
Laudicina also learned firsthand about the Aquastore’s adaptability when one of the tanks was recently pressed into service for alum storage. Alum is used in processing of drinking water to promote coagulation of tiny particles as well as remove color and improve turbidity. The spent alum from the county’s potable water facility contains dirt and debris that has to be isolated from the clean, drinkable water.
“We had a lot of rain last winter and the drying beds were wet the whole time, which meant we ran out of storage capacity for the spent alum,” he explained. “So we called in tanker trucks, pumped the alum and hauled it to our plant. We put it directly into one of the sludge holding tanks, then pressed it and hauled it to a biosolids dryer facility.”
CST knows that a dependable tank is the anchor of every efficient liquid-handling facility. That’s why Aquastore is a preferred choice for potable water storage and many other liquid applications. It proves its versatility every day, going the extra mile like helping Manatee County convert wastewater processing sludge into a Class AA biosolid, which it sells to local sod farms and orange groves for fertilizer.
Florida Aquastore prides itself on being a liquid storage partner, not just a vendor. Just looking at the tanks every day reminds Laudicina that his employer made the right choice. WW
About the Author: John Novaria is principal of Novaria Communication, based in Los Angeles. He has more than 30 years of experience in PR consulting, corporate communications and television news, where he was a two-time Emmy winner. Since 2012, Novaria has maintained his own practice counseling clients in engineering, financial services, manufacturing and technology.