Charlotte County is gearing up for a lot more sewage in future years.

Upcoming developments include the planned Sunseeker mega-resort as well as the future conversion of wooded land to large-scale community developments at Tuckers Grade in South County and Murdock Circle in the north.

Commissioners signed off last week on the first $7 million worth of design costs for two sewer expansions — one at the Burnt Store Road facility and one at the East Port facility near Harborview Road and Interstate 75.

The county calls them water reclamation facilities.

“‘Water reclamation’ is genteel for sewer plant,” said Travis Mortimer, the county’s Capital Improvement Projects director.

Construction at the East Port facility would begin next year, and would bump up capacity from the current 6 million gallons per day to 9 or 12 million gallons. At Burnt Store, capacity would be quadrupled at least, from a half million gallons per day to 2 or 2.5 million gallons. Construction is not anticipated for several years there.

The total cost of both projects is budgeted at close to $67 million, to be funded by sewer rate payers and not tax dollars.

Technology for processing sewage has not changed a lot in the past 100 years, Mortimer said, so the expansions will simply take advantage of the open land that the county has available.

These projects are not aimed at addressing current sewer issues, Mortimer said. Projects are currently underway to fix old sewer systems that tend to overflow in the rainy season. That includes a $22 million project to build a new sewer lift station in mid-county and a new sewer pipe running 3.5 miles along from Midway Boulevard to I-75.

Also, the county has sufficient capacity to handle the neighborhoods that are converting from septic to sewer.

“Current development is using up the available capacity, and current septic-to-sewer projects will use existing capacity,” Mortimer said. “The projected developments of Sunseeker, PEG, Tucker’s Point, and Tern Bay (now called Heritage Landings) will take the plants beyond current capacities.”

The county has to plan ahead.

“Because building a plant is such a long and expensive process, we’re required to address it way out in front of the actual need,” Mortimer said.

“We’re good today,” he added, “but this work is so that we’re ready to serve the population five years from now.”

Email:ecalvert@sun-herald.com

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