County Commission gives water update to residents

Published 11:44 am Monday, October 14, 2013

The Board of Commissioners gave an update on plans to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Tuesday, stating the government shutdown is the only thing halting their plans to begin renovations on the facilities and equipment.
“Those systems are over 25-years-old, and they need work,” Industrial Park Manager Eric Swain said. “They need a lot of effort put into them. We’ve done that over the course of the last year and we have changed a lot of things without having to spend a lot of money.”
At the meeting, Swain handed out a monthly discharge report from August 2013. The report said that the removal rating from their water is at 99 percent.
State standards and the county’s water permit require a removal rating of 85 percent.
Though they were able to cut $60,000 from their budget, Swain claims they are doing their best to make things work with “toothpicks and bubblegum.”
“There are two reasons these facilities need work,” Swain said. “We want more business and industry to come to Bainbridge, and we need new, proper equipment to handle everything. The second is because it’s just old.”
The pumps being used to send water to kitchen sinks and bath faucets throughout the county are the same pumps used in 1942.
“As our flows increase, we are going to have to take a proactive stance rather than a reactive one,” Stacy Watkins, Engineer at Watkins and Associates, L.L.C. and the consulting engineer for the county’s wastewater, said.
The county declined to merge with the city’s water system and upgrade their own systems two months ago, deciding that it would cost close to $10 million to re-establish the current facility if they ever decided to bring it back. Watkins also questioned the ability of the city’s existing water sewage system to handle the volume of sewage generated from the industrial park.
Additionally, it would be a fairly lengthy process to reacquire the water permit, according to Watkins
The Bainbridge water system is capable of pumping up to 7 million gallons of water a day and treating up to 2.5 million gallons of sanitary sewer a day, currently averaging 1.3 million gallons. The county system currently pumps an average of 179,000 gallons per day.
The county is looking to spend $4.8 million on renovations and improvements to the water treatment facilities that would take an estimated two years of infrastructure improvement, having received funds from the Economic Development Administration and the Georgia Environment Finance Authority and submitting their plans to the EPD for approval.
The county water system currently has 23 industrial customers.
“With additional industries on the edge of coming to Bainbridge, upgrading the systems has risen to priority,” County Administrator Greg Breedlove said.