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City celebrates start of $5.3 Million wastewater system, new police vehicle

WALDO – The City of Waldo recently hosted community leaders and elected officials from the cities of Waldo and Gainesville, Alachua County and USDA Rural Development as construction started on the city’s wastewater system. The City also celebrated the addition of a new vehicle to police department’s fleet.

The official groundbreaking marks the beginning of a project that will ultimately decommission the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant and construct a new pump station and force main to interconnect to Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) for treatment of the city’s wastewater.

The current treatment plant was constructed in 1985 and serves city residents and commercial users. The facility is permitted through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to discharge treated effluent to surface waters through three onsite constructed wetland cells that flow to a natural receiving wetlands which eventually discharges into the Santa Fe River.

The plant was issued a Consent Order by the FDEP due to nutrient, toxicity and surface-water quality issues. To address these environmental issues, the City of Waldo secured a $2.5 million USDA Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal direct loan and a $2.8 milllion grant to design and construct a master pump station and a 10.5 mile pipeline along Waldo Road (SR 24) to the point of connection with Gainesville Regional Utilities at N.E. 39th Avenue.

Waldo Mayor Louie Davis lauded the efforts of GRU, the county, USDA and City of Waldo officials in reaching an agreement despite the complexities involved.

“Getting this many agencies to come to the table and agree wasn’t easy, but I think this project shows that it can be done and as a result, we all benefit,” said Davis.

“We are very proud that this connection will help improve the environmental footprint of Waldo and help improve the conditions of the Santa Fe River,” he said.

USDA Rural Development State Director Richard A. Machek echoed similar sentiments saying, “This project will pay dividends for year to come as the cities of Waldo and Gainesville and Alachua County work together to protect the environment for future generations.”

“This project, and many more like it, demonstrates the critical role USDA Rural Development can play in communities across this country,” Machek said.

In addition to improvements to the town’s centralized wastewater system, residents of Waldo now have an additional police vehicle patrolling their streets. Following the groundbreaking ceremony, a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Pursuit Vehicle equipped with rear wheel drive and a police pursuit package was officially put into service at a dedication ceremony. Purchase of the $36,000 vehicle was made possible in part due to a $20,000 USDA Rural Development Community Facilities grant. The $16,000 balance of the purchase price came from the City of Waldo. “Assisting rural communities with essential public safety services is a priority for Rural Development,” said Machek.

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