Florida considers its first water sector P3

Miami Dade County is considering the South Miami Heights water treatment plant as a DBFOM project, the first water sector P3 in the state.

Miami Dade County is exploring the possibility of procuring and delivering the South Miami Heights water treatment plant as a public-private partnership (PPP; P3), the first such project in the water sector since the state enacted the Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act last July, significantly expanding the type of projects that can be financed by private companies.

The Miami Dade Water and Sewer Department (MDWASD), the agency procuring the project, issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) in November seeking input from the private sector for a number of water and wastewater projects in southern Florida.

Of the 32 responses Miami Dade received to its REOI, 12 respondents expressed strong interest in the South Miami Heights water treatment plant, MDWASD's Juan Carlos Arteaga – deputy director, capital improvements and regulatory compliance – wrote in a letter to respondents recently.

MDWASD will meet with its bond counsel on April 28 to determine whether financing will be part of the solicitation after 11 respondents expressed preference for a financing component, Arteaga said.

The project, which at this stage is estimated to cost $135 million, involves building a new plant in order to decommission satellite plants that have been in service for more than 40 years.

The procurement process is expected to be completed in two phases. The first will entail an interim agreement for certain planning, development, design, and financing services for the project, according to a document released by Miami Dade County. Phase 2 would be the awarding of a comprehensive agreement that may include the final design, permitting, construction, financing, and operation and maintenance of the project.

MDWASD is the largest water and sewer utility in the southeastern US, serving nearly 2.3 million residents. The department provides water and wastewater services to the unincorporated areas of Miami Dade County, wholesale water services to 14 municipalities, and wholesale wastewater services to 11 municipalities.