New water treatment plant would come with a hefty price tag

Collier County commissioners. (Credit: WINK News)
Collier County commissioners. (Credit: WINK News)

There is no doubt Southwest Florida is booming with construction projects. But along with the boom comes other necessities, such as water. Collier County is laying the groundwork, but a new water plant comes with a hefty price.

“We do need water,” said George Como, a neighbor. “We have problems with water and we got to do something about it.”

With the commissioners’ approval, help is coming in the form of a new, northeast interim wastewater treatment plant. It will provide water, wastewater and irrigation to the county.

Initially, water bill fees will be allocated to fund it until bond money becomes available. Collier County approved more than $77.5 million for the expenditure as it said this project is a long time in the making.

“The treatment plant was planned to be built in 2008 and with a downturn in the economy about 10 years ago,” said Craig Pajer, principal project manager for Wastewater Engineering for Collier County, “those plans were put on hold until development got up to speed again.”

The wastewater plant will consist of two pump stations and two storage tanks. It will serve about 6,000 homes and not a moment too soon. Developers expect current water supplies to max out by 2028.

If it is approved, water would be pumping to new facilities in a year.

“One of our biggest challenges is to keep up with growth and to make certain that we have the facilities in place when that demand occurs,” Pajer said.

But, some commissioners want to make sure the new plant helps everyone.

“I didn’t want it to be misconstrued,” said Willam McDaniel, a Collier County Commissioner. “That the need isn’t just for future growth. It’s for existing growth. It’s for developments that’s already in fact here.”

Neighbors like Randy Argent feel the investment is worth it.

“It’s a growing area,” Argent said. “I don’t see how it can be a big deal.”

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