During the creation of commercial, mixed-use developments in suburban/exurban areas, wastewater management often becomes a serious issue for developers. Local sewage network connections are either not available or add substantial costs. These costs include construction of new sewer lines and a pumping stations, plus additional monthly fees for the local utility to manage the increased load.
Sunny Acres is a greenfield 333-acre development in a rapidly growing Florida county. The development planned for 1,000 homes along with 900,000 ft2 of commercial space, including an outdoor mall, movie theater, and big box stores. The county’s policies require the development be a “pedestrian-friendly, human-scale environment”, with a framework for connectivity and walk-ability.
Commercial developers typically have the choice of either relying on septic systems or connecting to the public sewer network.
Septic systems however, require significant maintenance needs by homeowners and pose serious environmental concerns (particularly if maintenance is subpar). Additionally, septic systems in the United States typically require (at a minimum) lot sizes of 0.5 acres per home; roughly 50% larger than the national average single family lot.
The 1,000 homes targeted by the developer implies a minimum required development area of 500 acres for septic – larger than the total land available for development!
Choosing septic would have dramatically reduced the potential density and profitability of the development, not to mention, make it difficult to create the desired pedestrian-friendly environment.
Alternatively, extending sewers to Sunny Acres would have allowed the developer to build as planned, though at a cost of approximately US$4.5 million in impact fees.
With the introduction of Organica, the developer was no longer limited to selling fewer lots (septic) or paying prohibitively expensive impact fees (connection).
Organica’s sustainable and proven wastewater treatment solution allowed the developer to fully capitalize on the available land by providing a viable alternative that served as a basis for negotiating lower connection fees, but ultimately led to independence from the utility.
Utilizing Organica solutions, the developer of Sunny Acres was able to take control of its wastewater management costs.
A comparison of the net present value over 20-years shows that Organica is significantly more cost-effective to implement, particularly when compared to septic.
These comparisons are even more impressive considering connection and septic only require an upfront capital investment by the developer. Upon completion, ongoing operating costs under alternatives to Organica would have be borne by the homeowners and commercial operators.
Additionally, given the rate of growth in the area, connecting to the sewer network would have only served as a temporary solution for the local wastewater utility. An Organica facility allowed for the development to proceed without burdening the utility.
Organica allowed for Sunny Acres to achieve density goals, protect and enhance the environment, and achieve the desired economics for planners, developers, and communities.
The Organica plant is a completely enclosed and odorless 1,500m2 facility with architectural elements that give it the appearance of a botanical garden, allowing for virtually no buffer zone required within the development. This visual appeal and preservation of green space boosted the amount of developable land without negatively impacting property values, thus maximizing the developer’s return on investment.
Septic systems have a history of not being maintained and consequently high failure rates, becoming a significant contributor to environmental and public health problems. With Organica, the complexity and long-term risk of soil or groundwater contamination associated with septic is avoided.
Since Organica solutions are uniquely sophisticated and have a highly automated control system, each Organica-powered facility delivers seamless and low maintenance operation. These factors enabled the Sunny Acres developer to generate revenue from managing operations and recover the cost of investing in the Organica facility within 5 years.
Assumptions: 2013 national average single family lot size was approximately 0.33 acres, per National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Net Present Value was calculated over a 20-year time frame, based on a discount rate of 10% and annual increases of 4% in water and wastewater rates, 3% in OPEX, and 1% in flow.
Disclaimer: Financial estimates used are based on a hypothetical proposal for a greenfield project in Florida, USA. Images are sample displays. This case study is created for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a quote or offer of any kind. Financial data, OPEX, CAPEX, actual footprint, components (including but not limited to water reuse functionality), etc. may vary per project depending on the actual requirements.
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