Plum Creek Utility selects Florida Aquastore’s membrane bioreactor technology

June 14, 2021
The system was designed to biodegrade high-strength wastes into simple compounds, resulting in a high-quality effluent.

The wide green valley that is criss-crossed by Plum Creek forms the landscape for Uhland, Texas which began its recorded history when German farmers settled there in the 1800s and was also once home to the historic Club 21 dance hall.  Now situated between State Highway 21 and Interstate 35, sits the Highlands at Grist Mill, KB Homes latest collection of one-and two-story single-family homes in the Austin area and just 3.5 miles to the northeast sits the recently opened Uhland Elementary school, that will be home to 900 students.  In anticipation of this development, public and private partnerships would need to fill the role of delivering sustainable and environmentally responsible economic growth to the community.  Plum Creek Utility (PCU) through its private/public partnerships has made its mission to provide its customers with “superior quality wastewater treatment and collection services at an affordable price.”

PCU, a wastewater treatment and recycled water utility, was tasked with providing wastewater treatment and recycled water utility for the impending HCISD Uhland Elementary School campus, HCISD transportation center, and KB’ Homes Grist Mill Estates subdivision.  With so much riding on the performance of its wastewater treatment system, PCU turned to a proven provider, Florida Aquastore & Utility Construction, Inc. for its wastewater treatment needs.  Since 1975, Florida Aquastore (FA) has been a leader in providing wastewater treatment tanks and design-construct wastewater treatment systems for private developers, municipalities, and industrial customers having installed and commissioned hundreds of wastewater treatment plants on a design-build basis. 

Florida Aquastore’s Director of Wastewater Treatment, Chris Sullivan, provided insight into the Plum Creek WWT design process as follows: “We are truly technology agnostic during the design phase.  Our primary goal with any design-build is to listen to our clients’ current/future needs and effluent requirements and this project was no different.  We simply provided various treatment technology options, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment system with careful consideration towards budget, operational expertise, footprint, regulatory requirements, and future demand.  After spending time with General Manager, Mia Natalino and Operations Manager, Bill Fry, we kept coming back to PCU’s primary concerns which were footprint, effluent requirements, operational efficiency, and ease of future expansion.  Plum Creek’s WWT needs best aligned with our membrane bioreactor solution.”

Florida Aquastore provided its state-of-the-art Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) system, employing the most advanced membrane technology, and providing a cost-efficient and user-friendly wastewater treatment solution. The system was designed to biodegrade high strength wastes into simple compounds, resulting in a high-quality effluent (BOD < 1, TSS < 1, Ammonia < 0.05, and Phosphorous = 0.198) suitable for stream discharge or reuse.  The sewage treatment facility was initially designed to treat up to 60,000 GPD with the pre-engineered plan to expand up to 240,000 GPD.  By incorporating the future growth plans into Florida Aquastore’s initial design, PCU was able to significantly reduce their capital cost of expansion as well as reduce operational costs. 

Mr. Sullivan stated, “PCU gave us a blank slate – here’s the influent/effluent – provide us with a BOD/TSS below 5 with nutrient removal.  We initially discussed our extended aeration and MBR solutions.  Because we kept coming back to future expansion, the timing of the expansion, footprint, and effluent requirements, our MBR technology was the best solution.  Knowing that Phase II would soon follow, we value engineered the system from the onset, saved the client money, and will avoid shutting the plant down during expansion.  Additionally, unlike other plants, when this plant is ultimately finished at 240,000 GPD flow rate, the plant will operate as a single plant with one control panel, one headworks system, single set of blowers and pumps.  These are all huge wins for our client!”

General Manager, Mia Natalino, P.E. who maintains responsibility for the day-to-day operations of PCU stated, “We are thrilled with our Plum Creek Utility State-of-the-art Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) system.  Working with the Aquastore Team from contractual stage through commissioning of the plant, and even an unprecedented freeze has been  a  seamless effort of teamwork”.

With growth in the area expected to exceed 50% in the next year, PCU is quickly moving into the next phase of the project to meet future demand.  Florida Aquastore’s President, Matt Whelchel stated, “this is exactly the value proposition that we offer to our clients.  By being truly technology agnostic, we differentiate ourselves through a solution based, value engineered approach from the design phase that is unique for each client.  PCU expressed their needs and anticipated growth - our MBR technology was the perfect solution for this project.” 

Florida Aquastore’s MBR wastewater treatment system and PCU will meet the needs of this growing community for decades to come.  While Club 21 may not have survived, the future looks bright for the City of Uhland!

SOURCE: Florida Aquastore & Utility Construction, Inc.

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