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Wakulla Golf Course purchase quiets wastewater debate, for now

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 11:26 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A clearer picture for the immediate future of Wakulla County’s wastewater treatment emerged Monday night, after county commissioners voted unanimously to purchase the Wildwood Country Club and use the sprawling golf course as a treated wastewater spray site.

The move came after the county received word from engineers that a separate, more controversial, site was a non-starter.

“It’s great to see,” said Gil Damon. He has been a vocal critic of the county’s moves this year but said he can live with the outcome.

“They did it after exhausting every other option, but they did the right thing,” he said.

Critics emerged after the county purchased a plot of land not far from U.S. 98 for $500,000, hoping to transform it into a treated wastewater destination.

But early on, some Wakulla County residents worried the site’s geological features made it unsuited for the move. They feared it could harm the local environment, including Wakulla Springs.

For much of the year, county officials stood behind the decision to explore the site. County Administrator David Edwards said initial reports indicated the plot was promising, prompting the purchase.

“We had done preliminary due diligence that said it could work,” he said.

But recently, more extensive studies prompted the county to leave the proposal behind.

“That’s when we found out it could work, but it wouldn’t handle the amount we wanted it, so therefore the cost-benefit ratio is not there,” he said.

Damon still questions the process: “had they done the evaluations first, we wouldn’t be in this fiasco.”

But Edwards said he wouldn’t change how the process has unfolded.

Now, the Wildwood Country Club is set to welcome 600,000 gallons of treated wastewater a day as soon as this month.

But even that is just a start, Edwards said.

“That suits it today, we have to have more going forward,” he said.

Edwards said there are a few more hurdles to clear before the county can close on the golf course, but that could come before the end of the year. The purchase price is about $1.4 million.

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