Oldsmar's Sustainable Approach to Water Independence

Located on the northern shores of Tampa Bay with a population of approximately 14,000, the City of Oldsmar is making another big commitment to the environment - this time with its brand new Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant (ROWTP).

Not only does the plant reduce strain on local surface water for potable water production by utilizing a previously untapped source of brackish water, but Oldsmar has designed and constructed the ROWTP in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. In May 2013, the ROWTP earned LEED Silver Certification by the United States Green Building Council, thus becoming the 1st LEED certified ROWTP in the State of Florida and the 2nd in the United States.

This ambitious project falls on the heels of the city's renovation of its Historical Bank Building, which earned a Silver LEED rating. The City of Oldsmar is proud of its continued endeavors to match the needs of citizens with those of the environment, and invites you to explore its efforts at the ROWTP plant by reading the detailed account below or viewing any of the following documents:
Benefits of the Environment
In addition to reducing the strain on local surface water for potable water production, the brand new Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant (ROWTP) was constructed using best practices of green design and construction. This ambitious goal (more than 10 years in the making) has led the city to seek certification for the ROWTP through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Oldsmar is aiming to achieve a "Silver" rating under v2.2 of the LEED program. If successful, this will be 1 of the region's 1st ever LEED-certified ROWTPs. The city is proud of its efforts to match the needs of citizens with the needs of the environment. The requirements for achieving such a rating are vast, but then again, so are the benefits to the environment.

Because this site is part of a municipal utility, there are strict regulations as to who can physically access the area. However, the city hopes to encourage others by providing information on its green efforts. Some of the most significant benefits to the environment which were realized during the ROWTP design and construction processes are detailed below.

Even before construction started on the project, the city began a conscious effort to ensure that the project would be built in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Oldsmar avoided contributing to urban sprawl by selecting a site for the ROWTP that is located within half of a mile of over 10 community service buildings (such as banks, post offices, and restaurants).

Relatedly, to reduce the impacts of automobiles on the environment, alternative transportation is encouraged. The site offers secure bicycle storage as well as shower and changing rooms for those who are able to ride their bikes to work. Additionally, the site provides priority parking spots for low emitting / fuel efficient and carpool vehicles to promote their use.

The buildings located on the site were also designed and built using green practices. Environment- and people-friendly materials such as paints and sealants with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were used. The building was designed with daylighting in mind and utilizes windows and skylights which reduce heating and cooling costs. Over 25% of project total materials cost was spent on materials which were made of either pre- or post-consumer recycled materials.

The sourcing of materials and the construction process itself also received environmentally-friendly treatment. In an effort to reduce pollution caused by transporting heavy building materials via trucks burning fossil fuels, as a percentage of the total materials cost, 55% of materials purchased were sourced from within 500 miles (also helping stimulate the local economy). Construction, by its nature, generates lots of waste. However, not all of this waste needs to go straight into the trash. In fact, Oldsmar made a significant effort to ensure that any materials feasible were recycled or salvaged. This resulted in over 259 tons of construction waste being diverted from landfills.

Green efforts were also taken in the areas around ROWTP facility buildings. To combat the reduction in habitat for native vegetation and wildlife, open spaces have been constructed on over 70% of space within the project boundary. This provides a refuge for wildlife in addition to a more pleasing landscape for the human population. In areas that are landscaped, native plants and vegetation that require less water have been used. Additionally, all water used for irrigation purposes is reclaimed, which greatly reduces the demand on water resources. Finally, this site utilizes multiple strategies to manage stormwater and runoff, including ponds, limiting sidewalks and pavement, and using pervious paving materials.

Being responsible for independently producing and distributing all of the city's water is an exciting accomplishment in and of itself. Moreover, being able to do so via environmentally friendly methods and buildings is an achievement that Oldsmar and its residents can truly be proud of.

Photo Gallery
View a photo gallery of the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant.