FROM STAFF REPORTS
WHITE SPRINGS - The Town of White Springs dedicated its new wastewater treatment facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, September 26 with many city, county and state government officials present. The new facility is located on the Woodpecker Route, County Road 135.
White Springs Mayor Joseph McKire welcomed the distinguished guests present and thanked those in attendance, stating "we could not have done it without you."
Randy Ogburn, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, offered the invocation.
Among those present included the following: officials from the Department of Environmental Protection; Greg Godwin, Hamilton County Clerk of Court; Jerry Scarborough, Suwannee River Water Management District; Ralph Bowers, Jasper City Manager; Jennifer Cone, Jasper City Clerk; State Representative Dwight Stansel (D-Wellborn); Frank Darabi, Darabi and Associates, Inc.; White Springs Town Manager Robert Townsend; White Springs Town Council members Vicky Udell, Ralph Harwick and Tracy Woodard; many other distinguished guests.
Mayor McKire recognized the Florida DEP and Suwannee River Water Management District with a certificate of appreciation, as well as the Department of Community Affairs, among several other organizations.
Each plaque thanked the organization for "improving the quality of life in our community."
McKire also presented Darabi with a key to the city.
"This man made this happen, this is a great man," said McKire of Darabi's efforts. "This is your day, we appreciate the hard work and effort you gave to make this a success."
In return, Darabi presented plaques of appreciation to Mayor McKire, Rep. Stansel, as well as Robert Townsend, Jerry Scarborough, Randy Ogburn and to WPC Contractors, who paid for the ceremony.
When presenting the plaque to Stansel, Darabi told Stansel "we want to keep our water here," referring to the efforts of south Florida politicians to obtain north Florida's bountiful water supply.
"Your water will not go to south Florida," said Stansel, to a roar of applause from the audience.
The Telford Hotel provided food for the day's ceremony.
A lengthy process
According to officials from the Town of White Springs, the new wastewater treatment plant should dramatically improve the quality of drinking water in White Springs.
It took two years to acquire $3.5 million in grants to construct the new facility, which is now functioning and providing excellent water quality to White Springs.
In order to locate the new water facility outside of White Springs, the Suwannee River Water Management District obtained 80 acres of land and donated it towards the effort.
The Town of White Springs was initially turned down by the state of Florida for a DEP permit in order to build a facility, but the DEP agreed the second time White Springs applied, strongly considering the effect the Suwannee River had on the town's drinking water supply.
The CDBG, or Community Development Block Grant, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), enabled White Springs to afford the facility with very little cost to the town, which has annual budget of a slightly over $850,000.
According to town officials, the new system's capacity runs in conjunction with the old water facility ground tank and water tower, enough for about 500,000 gallons of water.
The town consumes 180,000 gallons of water daily, taking into account both private and commercial use.