MILTON—As the 2017 state legislative session nears, city officials are focusing their efforts on securing financial support for a $30 million wastewater treatment plant in East Milton.

The project, which has been on the city’s drawing boards for the past seven or eight years, calls for building a facility on 24 acres in the Santa Rosa Industrial Park that can ultimately accommodate an average daily flow of up to 8 million gallons of wastewater.

The daily demand of Milton’s current sewer plant is at 80 percent of its 2.5 million gallons-a-day capacity.

“We are concerned and have been for years,” City Manager Brian Watkins said. “We’re going to be at capacity in 2025 … We want to be well ahead of that timeline.”

With its current sewer infrastructure, the city is at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting larger companies, Watkins said.

“The importance of this to the central Santa Rosa County area … is very great,” he added. “Without the expansion of this plant, we are really stalled out. … The last thing we want is to tell some large manufacturer we can’t do it because we don’t have the capacity.”

Mayor Wesley Meiss presented the city’s plans to state lawmakers Jan. 17 during a meeting of the Northwest Florida legislative delegation. He also penned a letter to Santa Rosa County Commissioners, asking the board for its support. Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution in support of the project.

“Our goal in the development of the East Milton Water Reclamation Facility is to ensure we maintain enough capacity to handle any future residential, commercial or industrial development and to eliminate surface water discharge into the Blackwater River,” Meiss wrote in his letter to county commissioners.

Watkins agreed, noting that the construction of the plant eventually would end the city’s discharge of effluent into Blackwater River.

“There’s an environmental component,” he said. “It will allow us to get out of the river, and it will allow us to get into a septic tank abatement program and get more people off septic.”

Watkins said he is hopeful about the city’s chances of getting state funding. The city has, to date, invested $1.7 million on engineering, design and permitting.

 “We’ve gotten good support from our local delegation,” he said. “We are basically a shovel-ready project right now.”