Mayor responds to county officials’ concerns

Published 2:04 pm Friday, August 16, 2013

When Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds presented of the City of Bainbridge’s proposal to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners to merge the city and county wastewater treatment plants, questions arose about the capacity at the city’s facility.

On Friday afternoon, in an email to every county commissioner and to The Post-Searchlight, Reynolds offered further detail about the capacity of the city’s treatment facility.

During Tuesday’s meeting, county administrator Gary Breedlove questioned Reynolds about the city’s current wastewater capacity and whether it could accommodate future growth.

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“If you are going to take it, let’s talk about how you are going to take it,” said Breedlove. “Right now, you have 2.5 million gallons, and you are using 1.5 million gallons per day. This is before the elaborate sewer project in Douglas Hills and Lake Douglas. So that would increase the 1.5 beyond that.”

“Our capacity (at the county’s facility) is 1.5 million gallons, so if you add our capacity of 1.5, that’s where we would like the industrial park to be, to your existing 1.5, plus a couple of hundred new homes, then we are 500,000 gallons over capacity,” Breedlove continued.

Before writing his letter, Reynolds apparently researched observed capacity figures and replied to the county administrator’s concern.

“The county’s system currently handles 179,000 gallons per day. This volume does increase after heavy rains due to an infiltration issue with the existing infrastructure. It is our plan to correct this issue, thus we are not using peak flows in our analysis,” Reynolds said in his letter to the commission.

The city’s current permitted capacity is treatment of 2.5 million gallons of wastewater per day. The current average volume at the city’s facility is 1.3 million gallons per day, resulting in 1.2 million gallons of daily excess capacity.

Reynolds indicated that once the city’s sewer project is complete and homes are added to the system, the daily volume will increase to 1.53 million gallons per day, leaving slightly less than 1 million gallons of excess capacity.

When adding the county’s 23 existing customers to the city’s system, Reynolds projects that the total daily volume to be 1.7 million gallons per day.

Breedlove was concerned that a new combined system might be able to accommodate potential industrial growth in the industrial park, where the county’s facility is located.

“With the expansion that they’re talking about, with the possibility of the prison, and if other people start coming in, we need to start planning to make sure we can accommodate that growth,” said Breedlove.

Based on the projected volume of any new growth and the projected current volume of a combined system, Reynolds projected that the city system could add 15 facilities the size of new Bainbridge Manufacturing facility and still not reach maximum capacity at the city’s facility.

County Commission Chairman Russell Smith said the commission would compile all the relevant facts and figures associated with such a merger and then make the best decision.

“We are going to sit down, put a pencil to it, and make the best decision, financially, that we can,” said Smith.

The county has scheduled a special called meeting for next Tuesday at 7 p.m., immediately following the final public hearing on the millage rate increase. This subject is not on the agenda and it is unknown if it will be added to the agenda and discussed.

The county is about to begin a $4.7 million project to renovate and improve its treatment facility. An additional increase of 0.25 mills of property tax was added to the already-established 1.5 mill increase. County officials said ensure the granting of a loan of $3.1 million from the Georgia Environmental Financing Authority to complete the project.

The city’s proposal calls for the county to spend $1.7 million connect to the city’s system and for the city to take over the county’s natural gas system as well as the county’s wastewater system. As compensation for taking over the gas system, the city would credit to the county the estimated $1 million in improvements needed in order to repair the infiltration problem, according to Mayor Reynolds.