New Milton water treatment plant key to Santa Rosa growth

Right along the Blackwater River in the city of Milton, the wastewater treatment plant that takes care of wastewater and effluent discharge for the city, Whiting Field, all the county’s industrial parks and major economic hubs has chugged along quietly for the past 60-plus years. 

The small facility can process up to 2.5 million gallons of wastewater a day. If you’ve ever been in central Santa Rosa County in the past half century and have flushed a toilet, taken a shower, washed your hands or given your dog a bath in the sink, the water has flowed down your drain, through miles of underground pipeline and straight into the Little Wastewater Treatment Plant That Could. 

But as the county continues to grow, so, too, does the need for more capacity at the city-operated facility. Milton officials say that the current plant will reach capacity by 2023, which would mean the city and county could no longer approve new developments like neighborhoods, restaurants and stores in the area because there would be nowhere for their toilet water to go once it’s flushed. 

“Water is basically the basis for civilization,” said Jesse Medley, the department head of water and wastewater treatment for the city of Milton. “The civilization can’t grow if the water isn’t taken care of.”

Jesse Medley, director of water and wastewater treatment for the city of Milton, talks Jan. 28 about how soiled wastewater goes through a roto screener and into a grit classifier at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Milton. A new plant is going to be built in East Milton that will make treating wastewater even more efficient, effective and safe.

Growing downtown Milton:Old Berryhill school in downtown Milton could be revitalized into apartments for military students

‘Transformative’:Milton’s new $28 million water treatment plant promises to be ‘transformative’ for region

That’s why for the better part of the past decade, local and state officials have been working to find a solution to the capacity crisis. The answer is a brand new $28.5 million facility that will break ground in East Milton on Feb. 13, located next to the Blackwater Correctional Facility. Officials hope the first phase of the project will be complete by February 2023 — the exact time they expect the current plant will no longer be able to sustain growth. 

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