Monday, January 25, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Decreasing Percent Allocation Of Sewer Capacity For Residential Use

Expand Capacity Overall

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie will ask the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night to change the county’s allocation of sewer capacity so that 40 percent is allocated to residential use.

The proposal represents a change in policy put into place by the Commission in 2008 but never actually implemented.

At that time, all sewer capacity realized from proposed plant upgrades was to go to commercial and industrial use, but the county did not follow through on the planned upgrades.

In 2013 the county confirmed its old policy allocating half of existing capacity to residential use, and Haynie’s proposed policy reduces that figure to 40 percent.

If the county accepts the policy changes proposed by Haynie, 40 percent of all sewer capacity in the future will be for residential, 40 percent will be for non-residential (commercial), and 20 percent will be for industrial and manufacturing.

Haynie spelled out these plans to the Board of Commissioners at a work session on Jan. 14 and is bringing them to the Board for approval at the 7 p.m. meeting tomorrow night at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Work Session

The proposed capacity allocation policy changes were part of a nearly hour-long presentation by Haynie to the Commissioners at a work session in the Grand Jury Room of the Courthouse on the afternoon of Jan. 14.

Haynie told the Board what has been widely acknowledged in the past, namely that the county needs more water and sewer capacity.

Part of the solution to the sewer need, he said, is the upgrade of the Calls Creek plant to allow it to reach 1 million gallons per day of treatment capacity.

Also on the agenda tomorrow night is discussion on the awarding of a contract for construction of what is a replacement plant for the current Calls Creek facility.

The total cost of that construction, reflected in the documents Haynie presented to the Board on Jan. 14, is $5.7 million.

Sewer Solution

What was new in Haynie’s plan is that the county might not build a new wastewater treatment facility on the Middle Oconee River, as long has been planned.

Instead, Haynie proposed that the county consider building a gravity-fed transmission line from the expanded Calls Creek plant to the Middle Oconee, most likely following the contours of Calls Creek itself.

The state has said that the county can only expand its capacity to 1.5 million gallons per day so long as it discharges into Calls Creek, but it could discharge more if that treated water went directly to the Middle Oconee River.

Whether the county builds more capacity at its current site or builds a new plant on the Middle Oconee, it will need a sewer line from the current plant, where most of the county’s untreated sewer water now flows, to the Middle Oconee.

The county will have ample land at its current site, particularly if it decommissions the existing treatment plant, as it is considering doing, according to Haynie. In the short-term, the county is planning to spend $1.2 million on upgrades to that existing plant.

Haynie’s discussion of these options is in the video clip below.

OCO: Sewer Pipe To Middle Oconee from Lee Becker on Vimeo

Water Solution

Haynie told the Board that he does not anticipate that Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir, now filling in southeast Walton County, will be able to provide water to the county quickly enough to meet anticipated short-term needs.

Oconee County is a partner with Walton County on the project, and both counties have borrowed heavily to build the reservoir itself. At present, plans for construction of the treatment plant and transmission lines are on hold as the counties consider need and financial resources.

Haynie proposed that Oconee County explore ways to get additional capacity from the Bear Creek reservoir in Jackson County. Oconee is a partner with Barrow, Clarke and Jackson counties on that facility, which currently provides the majority of water used in the Oconee County system.

Additional water comes from county wells.

Haynie said Oconee County should explore consider a purchase of excess capacity now held by Barrow County.

His comments to the Board of Commissioners on this topic are in the video below.

OCO: Bear Creek Water from Lee Becker on Vimeo

Other Projects

Haynie outlined a series of other projects, some of which have not been discussed widely before.

Included in this group is construction of a second elevated 1 million gallon water storage tank to serve the Watkinsville area. The cost budgeted over the next two years is $3 million.

Haynie said he has budgeted $500,000 to extent a water line along the Parkway Boulevard Extension, which the county is building at an estimated cost of just less than $4 million, not including the water line.

That road is designed to open up the area between the Oconee Connector and the current stub of Parkway Boulevard at Kohl’s for future development, including for an expansion of Epps Bridge Centre.

Hayne also has budgeted $675,000 over the next two years to extend sewer capacity to the city of Bogart. Bogart will be spending additional money to provide sewers within the city limits.

Biggest Change Is Policy

The change in sewer policy likely was the most significant part of Haynie’s presentation, given extensive conversation in recent public meetings about residential sewer capacity.

On Nov. 25, 2008, the Board of Commissioners approved the “immediate upgrade” of the Calls Creek plant to 1 million gallons per day and stated that “any additional capacity realized be restricted to commercial usage.”

The plant was never upgraded, and, on May 7, 2013, the Board restated its earlier policy that “50% of capacity at any sewer treatment facility” be allocated for residential use.

Haynie is proposing that the allocation for residential use of “any sewer treatment facility,” and thus for the system as a whole, but reduced to 40 percent, with 20 percent held for industrial and manufacturing use.

That leaves 40 percent for commercial use.

Haynie also proposed that the county calculate capacity as 90 percent of the permitted discharge, holding back the 10 percent for emergency use.

Near Capacity

Haynie told the Board that the need for increased capacity is urgent.

At present, the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road, permitted at 400,000 gallons per day, is operating at 80 percent capacity.

The Calls Creek plant, just northeast of and just outside the city limits of Watkinsville, is permitted at present at 667,000 gallons per day.

That plant is operating at 65 percent of capacity.

System wide, the county is treating about 765,000 gallons per day of sewage and is permitted for 1,067,000 gallons per day. That means the system is at 71.7 percent capacity.

But the county has at least another 450,000 gallons per day in committed capacity, that is, capacity sold to developers, meaning the county has sold 148,000 more gallons per day of capacity than it has.

Additional Demand

Haynie said he sees more demand on the horizon.

He listed the need for additional treatment capacity for AmeriPride in Watkinsville and for Benson’s Bakery in Bogart, though he only listed them as “Industrial Laundry” and “Industrial Bakery” on his handout.

He listed 60,000 gallons per day for the former and 30,000 gallons per day for the latter.

He also said there is the possibility of a poultry processing plant and of a brewery coming to the county, needing 50,000 gallons per day and 15,000 gallons per day of capacity, respectively.

He listed a CCRC (possibly Presbyterian Homes), the Zaxby’s headquarters on Daniells Bridge Road, and the expansion of Epps Bridge Centre as other entities needing sewer.

The figures he listed were 5,000 gallons per day for the CCRC, 15,000 gallons per day for Zaxby’s, and 20,000 gallons per day for Epps Bridge Centre Phase II.

These projects alone would require an additional 195,000 gallons per day of sewage treatment capacity.

Haynie’s stated goal is to upgrade Calls Creek to its permitted 1 million gallons per day as quickly as possible, possibly within the year.


The full video of the Jan. 14 meeting is below.

I took the short clips above from this longer recording.

OCO: BOC Work Session 1 14 2016 from Lee Becker on Vimeo

In addition, it is possible to take a tour the Calls Creek Water Reclamation Facility itself through the video that follows.

The video was shot back in December. I edited the two-hour long tour into the 45-minute package, with narrative.

OCO: Calls Creek Tour from Lee Becker on Vimeo

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