The Valdosta Daily Times
The City of Valdosta officially adopted a five-year plan at Thursday’s City Council meeting to address sewage and wastewater treatment issues that have plagued the City since the early 1990s.
The plan will involve quick fixes at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) to bring existing facilities up to code and avoid fines from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD), the construction of a new WWTP 60 feet above the flood plain, testing of all 300 miles of existing sewage piping and a new force main that will pump sewage uphill to the new plant.
The City will request design proposals for the new WWTP project over the summer, following design approval by the GEPD and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), according to Utilities Director Henry Hicks, who presented the plan to the Council Thursday.
The new project will use existing outfalls for discharge into the Withlacoochee, and the design will meet current EPD permit limits. The facility will be designed to treat an average of 12 million gallons of sewage per day, with a peak hydraulic capacity of 22 million gallons, according to the presentation.
The facility will be designed for future expansion, and will cost $20 million, the presentation states. While Hicks mentioned earlier the new WWTP could be a primary-only facility, the plan has changed to include secondary and advanced treatment, according to City Manager Larry Hanson.
In the meantime, the City plans to complete six specific projects at a cost of $2.5 million including contingencies to bring the existing WWTP back up to GEPD code. To expedite the process, the Utilities Department will present information to the City Council for approval at the next meeting so the process can begin immediately.
“We’re going to cease funding for some other projects and focus on these,” Hanson told the Council. “We can get it done within eight months to a year.”
The Georgia EPD has reviewed this proposed plan and approved it, according to Hicks.
Over the next five years, all 300 miles of sewer lines will be evaluated for inflow and infiltration (I&I) using smoke-testing first, followed by closed-captioned television investigations. More than 75 miles of lines have already been tested, mostly in the Country Club area, Hanson said.
The testing will identify major leaks in the lines to create a prioritized list of major problem points to be addressed some time in the future.
“We’re looking for gaping holes,” Hanson said earlier in the week.
A schedule to complete major rehabilitation projects identified through this evaluation will be submitted for GEPD approval by December 2018.
Two master pump stations, two smaller pump stations, a new force main and a new head works with grit removal and bar screens will be built to complement the new WWTP. The force main will extend for six miles and measure either 30 or 42 inches in diameter, depending on the flow. The force main will remove half of the sewer flow from the Meadowbrook Sewer Trunk Line.
According to Hanson, one master pump station will be located in Remerton on the site of the original treatment plant and the second one will be located in the area behind the YMCA. When asked about building in the flood zone, Hanson said the pump station will be built high enough to withstand any flooding.
“Remember, these projects will alleviate the sewage issues. It won’t do anything for the flooding,” Hanson said, explaining that the Army Corps of Engineers and communities all along the watershed area are working together to try and solve the flooding issues, which affect everyone from Cordele, Tifton, Valdosta, and areas south in Florida.
To construct the force main project, the City has been pre-approved for a $32 million GEFA loan. Per continued questioning about the City’s GEFA loan history, Hanson explained that the City does still owe money on a $250,000 solid waste loan (92003SW) executed Feb. 9, 1994, but that it will be paid in full by next year, which accounts for its absence from documents offered to the Times recently.
Hanson explained that the Amount of Note Issuance column printed in the Times matches the Repayment Amount column in the loan report from GEFA, with the exception of the drinking water loan DW97036. The discrepancy of $33,267.10 between the information from GEFA and the City represents a “prepayment on principal,” Hanson said.