Wharton-Smith Celebrates Grand Opening of A-First Project

ribbon cutting

Alternative Water Supply Project Saves Money and Helps the Environment

Sanford, FL – On November 20, 2016, Wharton-Smith joined with local and state officials to celebrate the grand opening of the Altamonte Springs-FDOT Integrated Reuse and Stormwater Treatment (A-FIRST) project, an innovative water reuse system that captures and treats stormwater runoff from Interstate 4. The reclaimed water will be used for irrigation throughout Altamonte Springs and in nearby Apopka.

Innovation was the word of the day, summing up the success of this unique project and partnership between the City of Altamonte Springs, the City of Apopka, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD). The $12.5 million A-FIRST project will prevent up to 1.5 million gallons a day (mgd) of stormwater and 3 mgd of highly treated excess reclaimed water from reaching the Little Wekiva River while also providing up to 4.5 mgd of reclaimed water to the nearby city of Apopka. It is the first time that runoff from a major highway in Florida has been collected and repurposed in this way and the first project of its kind to be implemented in the United States. Its operation will become even more important with the widening of I-4, a project that will increase runoff and would normally require FDOT to build and maintain a large water retention pond to hold and treat stormwater, which is no longer needed because of A-FIRST.

Jim Gramlich, Senior Superintendent for Wharton-Smith, led field teams throughout construction including several infrastructure projects to make the A-FIRST plan a reality. Early work consisted of building of a new stormwater treatment facility, along with major modifications to the stormwater pump station, construction of a flow control assembly for automated control of the discharge rate to the Little Wekiva River, construction of approximately 1,550 feet of 16-inch and 20-inch stormwater forcemain, and connection of the Reuse Augmentation Facility (RAF) to the city’s reclaimed water distribution system. “This is an exciting project for the City of Altamonte and for Wharton-Smith,” said Nate Hillard, Wharton-Smith Project Manager for A-FIRST. “This project will make a direct impact on the water resources in our area and we are proud to have contributed to its success.”

Altamonte Springs Mayor Pat Bates led the ceremony introducing a host of dignitaries including Congressman John Mica, State Senator David Simmons, and State Representative Bob Cortes. She also thanked each and very local partner, including Wharton-Smith, for the incredible work in making this project a success. “We are proud of our continued relationship with Wharton-Smith who has had a hand in some of the most important projects we have done. Thank you Wharton-Smith.”