July 10, 2019

Theresa Java/Free Press
Nicolas Rodriguez, left, was sworn in as the newest Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District commissioner. He is pictured with wife Christi Daugherty, son Henry and Chairman David Asdourian.

Theresa Java/Free Press Nicolas Rodriguez, left, was sworn in as the newest Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District commissioner. He is pictured with wife Christi Daugherty, son Henry and Chairman David Asdourian.

KEY LARGO — The Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District last week welcomed its newest commissioner, moved along with current construction projects while further plans more capital improvements and addresses odor complaints.

Nicolas Rodriguez was sworn in as the newest Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District commission ahead of the last meeting.

Rodriguez will serve out the remainder of Steve Gibbs’ four-year term, which ends with the 2020 election. Gibbs moved to northern Florida in May.

Rodriguez was approved last month by a majority vote in a third motion called to appoint a new commissioner.

A split vote killed the motion to appoint another candidate, followed by a split vote for Rodriguez. Rodriguez was eventually seated with the backing of commissioners Sue Heim and Robby Majeska and Chairman David Asdourian. Commissioner Andy Tobin was the sole dissenter.

The district continues to push current projects with an estimated price tag of $1,115,956 along. The projects, which have been budgeted, include headworks bypass piping, a foot bridge connecting the main treatment plant to the third sequencing batch reactor, filter booster pump upgrades and a treated water pumping system. District staff reported that all projects are nearing completion.

Also close to the finish line is the solar array system being installed over the chlorine contact basins at the main plant. Installation of the vertical aluminum framework has been complete, according to a staff report.

These panels will join the other 334 solar panels installed on the roof of the main plant. The total cost for the solar array systems in both locations is $366,600.

The chlorine contact basin solar panels will effectively provide power at the plant while shielding the basins from the sun, helping to reduce chlorine evaporation.

This array system should be online by the end of the month, also according to staff.

These projects have been funded by Florida Keys Stewardship funds.

Upcoming projects include installing a steel storage building at the main plant for $175,250 and a fire alarm system throughout district-owned properties for $737,297.

Several homeowners along Mockingbird Lane have complained of odor wafting from Vacuum Station A.

“We determined that there is an odor,” General Manager Peter Rosasco said. “There is no odor now. There are some long-term solutions that we are looking at.”

“We have an obligation to do whatever it takes to fix it. We owe that to the customers,” Tobin said. “No one’s life should be interrupted because the odor is too bad.”

District staff will update the board every other month on the matter.

Also, the district is planning another debt reduction payment just under $1 million to further reduce its debt to approximately $27,568.

tjava@keysnews.com