Additional upgrades may be needed at wastewater plant

Published 10:40 am Friday, July 13, 2012

County Administrator Gary Breedlove told the Decatur County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that additional work may eventually be required at the Air Industrial Park’s wastewater treatment plant.

Breedlove explained that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) recently presented the county with a new consent order, related to the March 4 spill of 600,000 gallons. That spill was directly related to heavy rainfall on the weekend of March 3-4.

Breedlove said the county was assessed a nominal fee of $1,000 for the spill. More importantly, the EPD made the recommendation that the “collections system” at the wastewater treatment plant should be studied and also possibly upgraded.

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The collections system includes lift stations, drains, and all piping that leads into the wastewater treatment plant.

Breedlove explained that the cost of any future upgrades to the collections system are not included in the current project’s financing. On Aug. 23, 2011, the county approved spending $2.87 million on the plant’s scheduled upgrades, with $1.67 million coming from a federal grant. However, that $2.87 million only covers improvements at the facility itself, and not the outside collections system.

Breedlove said that engineers will begin researching the existing collection system and see what immediate changes could be made. For example, some unnecessary pipes could be sealed off permanently to prevent potential future overflow spills.

If any funds are required to upgrade parts of the collection system, a new grant application would be written. Breedlove said that the county would likely receive some federal or state assistance, due to the EPD’s consent order stating the improvements have to be made.

In other business, the county:

• Approved using a buyback program through John Deere to take out $146,000 in cash that could be used to meet immediate expenses. Those funds would have to be repaid over the next five years, at a 2.3-percent interest rate.

• Heard from Breedlove considering the county’s partnership with Main Street Broadband (MSBB). Breedlove said he, County Attorney Brown Moseley and Board Chairman Dr. Charles T. Stafford recently met with MSBB CEO Michael Mies and network technician Shane Turner.

Recently, the county determined that it has already spent all of the $2.5 million in SPLOST funds set aside for the MSBB project. As a result, the county’s partnership agreement with MSBB had to be reassessed.

Breedlove said both sides are still drafting a complete written agreement, but essentially two changes will occur. First, the county will no longer subsidize the cost of installing a new customer’s equipment (about $200 to $300). And secondly, the county will no longer fund additional tower sites.

“Our obligation on repair and maintenance is limited to the funds we have available in SPLOST,” Breedlove said.