Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of 24 articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2017 that were among the most noteworthy. We will post all of them beginning today and ending on Sunday, December 31st. Then on Monday, January 1st we will poll our readers and let them decide which story is Apopka’s biggest story of 2017.
Story #2: The struggles, negotiations, and resolve between Anuvia, the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the City of Apopka
Published between March 3rd and April 27th, 2017.
March 3rd – The City of Apopka has ordered Zellwood-based Anuvia Plant Nutrients to immediately stop discharging effluent into the City’s wastewater collection system.
The letter to Anuvia from the City dated today reads, in part:
“The City’s Water Reclamation Facility has reached a critical point that it is in jeopardy of major violations of its DEP Operating Permit. As a result, in accordance with Part VI, Sections 13G) and 13(0) of the Anuvia Florida LLC Wastewater Discharge Permit, it is necessary for Anuvia Florida LLC to cease discharge of its process effluent to the City’s wastewater collection system immediately and until such time the process effluent can meet the requirements contained in the permit. This process effluent can be hauled to a facility that is capable of proper treatment of the high organic content contained in it. The sanitary effluent from the administrative buildings can still be discharged to the City’s wastewater collection system.”
The Cease Discharge order comes less than a week after the City Council voted to spend $63,400 to have approximately 1,200 cubic yards of “excess” biosolids removed over the course of the next 12 weeks. Prior to and after that vote, members of the Council made it clear they expected Anuvia to absorb some portion of the cost.
The letter came as a surprise to Anuvia CEO Amy Yoder.
“It’s unfortunate the city decided to issue this less than one business day after providing a proposed permit and without any warning,” she said. “As the letter is quite ambiguous, we are working through exactly what that means for us. But, we designed this facility and invested $100 million based on levels the city mistakenly thought they could handle. They have had three years and have been paid more than $1 million to ensure they could process our water. Obviously, that did not happen and now we feel we are being punished for their internal issues.”
Yoder said Anuvia was given no warning or any attempt to help the city with their wastewater facility issues, therefore they are in the process of taking their facility temporarily offline until a solution is developed with or without the city’s facility. As for the new permit, or a renewed business relationship with the City, that is now unknown.
“We have asked to meet with the city, their staff, and their consultants,” Yoder said. “As of yet, they have not agreed to that meeting. However, the parameters the city proposed are impossible to meet quickly. They are significantly lower than what was suggested in the Woodard & Curran report and I believe we will need to adjust those levels if we are to continue doing business with the City of Apopka.”
Annuvia’s current discharge permit expires today. Annuvia received a proposed renewal permit from the City last Friday, March 3rd.
The City staff, through Public Information Officer Robert Sargent, issued this statement:
“We as staff view this is an unfortunate set of circumstances, but ordering Anuvia to discontinue sending discharge to the City’s wastewater system is unavoidable. As we have made clear for weeks, the City has been working with the company for quite some time to avoid this decision, but it is no longer an option and should not be a surprise to Anuvia. Elements of Anuvia’s waste exceed the plant’s capacity. Allowing them to continue would put the City in violation of DEP regulations. We appreciate their investment in northwest Orange County and hope to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
City of Apopka, Anuvia meet to discuss wastewater issues, but no resolution found during 90-minute meeting
March 6th – City of Apopka officials, Florida Department of Environmental Protection representatives, and Anuvia Plant Nutrient executives met this afternoon for approximately 90 minutes at the Apopka Public Works Building in an attempt to resolve their differences and find a way to get Anuvia back online with the wastewater treatment facility after receiving a Cease Discharge Order from the City on Monday.
But at the conclusion of the discussion, Anuvia remained offline and no clear timetable for a re-start was reached.
Anuvia resumes operations without using Apopka plant: Builds its own spray field that meets FDEP standards
March 17th – With an agreement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Anuvia Plant Nutrients was able to start operations yesterday on a limited basis without using the City of Apopka’s wastewater treatment plant.
The company entered into a pilot project with FDEP that consists of significant reporting requirements and water standards that are approximately 20 percent of the standards from the City of Apopka.
At its own expense, Anuvia has built a spray field for water that meets the FDEP standards. Any water in excess of these strict standards will be shipped to a commercial facility for wastewater.
“We are proud to enter into this program with the state to start operations once again and put our employees back to work,” says Amy Yoder, CEO, Anuvia Plant Nutrients. “The DEP’s interest in protecting our environment is aligned with our core mission and we believe this is the start of moving forward with all entities.”
In addition to the immediate solution to start operations, the pilot project includes a wide variety of testing that Anuvia will be running on its system over the next several weeks to reduce its chemical and biological oxygen demand.
Finally, the company is working with the City of Apopka to start a program suggested by city staff to assist in ensuring the city’s wastewater treatment plant begins to run functionally.
The new permit with the city is still under review and negotiations are pending after the results of the variety of testing is complete.
April 27th – Anuvia Plant Nutrients, the Florida-based plant nutrient company, and the City of Apopka have reached an agreement to reconnect to the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
The agreement came after an investment by Anuvia to start several tests anticipated to significantly lower the chemical oxygen demand of Anuvia’s discharge, along with multiple stop-gap measures and testing protocols implemented by Anuvia.
“Throughout this entire ordeal, Anuvia has worked diligently to assist the city in solving the issues they have experienced at their wastewater treatment plan,” says Amy Yoder, CEO, Anuvia Plant Nutrients. “Now that the city’s facility is under control, we believe the steps we have taken will produce the results the city now knows it needs from us.”
One of the tests is a partnership with OxSolve. Pat McGuffin, director of business development, was instrumental in bringing the company’s aeration system forward as a solution and working with the city and Anuvia on the test.
“OxSolve has a proven track record of solving problems like this,” McGuffin says. “I am proud to be a part of making this work.”
The initial testing period will last seven days, with water continually tested at Anuvia before discharging into the city’s system. It is anticipated, with positive results from the tests, the testing period will be extended as Anuvia works through other tests at its facility.
For the past month, Anuvia has worked closely with Department of Environmental Protection on a limited discharge of water at their facility under a pilot project. With the terms of that project’s agreement, the DEP is fully aware and approves of the resumption of services by the city.