By LINDA CHION KENNEY
South Hillsborough County residents have been asked to weigh in on a $3.5 million project in Ruskin, which is part of a greater effort to protect groundwater and improve the quality of the regional’s natural systems by eliminating septic tanks and low-pressure sewer systems in areas around Tampa Bay.
Phase one of that effort in the western region of Ruskin is to construct a vacuum pump station to support future vacuum sewer system infrastructure for hundreds of residential properties.
Known as the Ruskin and Wimauma Low Pressure Sewer and Septic Conversion program, the $3.5 million initiative involves getting rid of septic tanks and low-pressure sewer systems in the western region of Ruskin, generally located along West Shell Point Road, north of Ruskin Inlet and west of Graceful Sea Place.
A new vacuum sewer pump station is slated for a residential lot county officials are set to purchase at 2508 Shell Point Road.
Once the land for the pump station is acquired, the measure would go before the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for approval. With approval in hand, the public again will be asked to weigh in on the matter before design plans are complete and construction begins.
The working timeline is for a final design by mid-2024, with construction to start later that year. Project completion is expected in late 2025.
“I’m very excited about this project and hope it gets completed quickly,” said a survey respondent online at the county’s public engagement hub. “Our neighborhood needs modern sewer service.”
The Hillsborough County Public Utilities project is part of the Water Resources Department Capital Improvement Program, for which Gita Iranipour is a project manager.
In response to a question about odor mitigation, Iranipour said that a “dedicated odor control system” is designed “to minimize any potential for sewer odors.” Moreover, she said, “the pumps will be completely enclosed in a concrete-block building.”
According to county officials, there is enough space on the site to allow for vegetative buffering and screening for residential neighbors.
In his survey comment, Paul Kraack said the project “seems overdue and welcome” as he inquired about the added value to property owners.
Iranipour said Hillsborough Water Resources Department officials are working to develop a connection assistance program, “which may include financial incentives to property owners for connecting to the new wastewater collection system.” Any such deal would need county board approval.
As project plans advance, additional informational events will be scheduled, Iranipour said.
For more, visit www.publicinput.com/hcengage/.