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St. Pete Beach funds wastewater repairs
City commissioners allocate $2.088 million for much needed upgrades
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Photo by BOB McCLURE
St. Pete Beach Mayor Maria Lowe is sworn into office March 25 at City Hall by Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov.
ST. PETE BEACH – It took a few hours but after a detailed discussion, the St. Pete Beach City Commission passed a $2.088 million package March 25 to repair the city’s ailing wastewater system.

The biggest hurdle was agreeing to spend $1.519 million for TLC Diversified to rehabilitate pump station No. 2. The cost covers installation of new pumps, which were recently allocated by the City Commission.

TLC Diversified is not new to the city. The company most recently completed an overhaul to lift station No. 4 in Pass-A-Grille.

Once the first item was OK'd, the commission approved $38,086 for Duke Energy to underground power lines to pump station No. 2 and OK'd $146,057 for the purchase of pumps for lift stations 5, 6, 9 and 12 from Xylem Water Solutions USA. They followed those moves by approving $385,735 for rehabilitation to the four lift stations by the Hinterland Group, which recently completed manhole rehab projects and upgrades to lift station 10 for the city.

Earlier in the evening, Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, new Mayor Maria Lowe and new Commissioner Terri Finnerty requested an educational workshop on the wastewater expenditures, which will be conducted by city staff Tuesday, April 8, 4 p.m. But a suggestion to delay the vote on the five wastewater topics to a later meeting never materialized.

“I don’t want to delay this too long but I would like to know enough information,” said Pletcher. “It’s a pretty large project with a lot of expenditures and I thought it would be handy for everybody to know this is where we’re at and this is why we’re going to have to do this.”

City Manager Mike Bonfield explained that the pump station 2 replacement has been discussed for the past two budget years.

“We went through a year of design and a bid process, and now we’re bringing it forward,” he said. “The four lift stations were added this year. They’re probably more of a priority because one of the lift stations we decided to put on a bypass rather than spend money for a temporary fix.”

Public Services Director Steve Hallock explained that pump station 2 is comparable to a Ford Model-T.

“We had to replace the force main. If you touched the pipe, it would crack and fall apart,” Hallock said. “It was that brittle, that old. It’s in a very harsh environment in saltwater.

“The pumps are old and worn out,” he added. “When that pump station fails we have sanitary sewer overflows that we have to report to the (Florida) Department of Environmental Protection.”

Funding will include $928,039 from the general fund and the balance from the city’s enterprise fund, which is comprised of monthly wastewater taxes collected from homeowners.

The city’s wastewater system has 14 lift stations and three pump stations. The lift stations move wastewater from individual neighborhoods to the main line. The pump stations then move the wastewater toward Treasure Island and into St. Petersburg for treatment. The backbone is pump station No. 1, or the main pump station, which forces wastewater off the island.

“If the main pump station goes down, nothing leaves the island,” Hallock said.

Plans call for pump station 3 to be replaced next year.

Earlier in the evening, commissioners voted unanimously to pass the consent agenda, which included:

• Authorization for Lowe to enter into an agreement with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to accept the $2,259 Edward Byrne Memorial-U.S. Department of Justice grant for two police-rated bicycles for use by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

• Authorization for Bonfield to spend $37,943 with JAM 5:20 Construction for replacement of garage doors at Fire Station No. 23.

• Approval of $49,505 for the replacement of facility roofs by CPWG Inc.

• Reappointment of Joanne Lentino, Bruno Falkenstein and Jerry Gorup to 2-year terms on the Firefighters Pension Board of Trustees.
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