Oconee County has received “concurrence” from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for an upgrade of its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant from its current 0.667 million gallons per day to 1 million gallons per day of effluent.
The EPD had approved an earlier design for the upgrade of the plant in June of 2015 and had approved construction of the project on Dec. 30, 2015, but the county did not move forward on those plans.
The county submitted a modification to the 2015 plans this year, and Benoit Causse from the Municipal Permitting Unit of the EPD Wastewater Regulatory Program wrote to Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie on Nov. 18 saying “We hereby concur with the document.”
Demand For Capacity
The county has been struggling with various plans for upgrading its Calls Creek Plant for years, and the acceptance of the plans by the EPD last month is only one step toward increasing capacity of the county’s sewage treatment system.
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Haynie, hired in August of 2015, initially had proposed that the county not stop at an upgrade that would provide only 1 million gallons per day of capacity but instead move immediately to 1.5 million gallons per day.
Then he suggested that the county actually start to plan immediately for an upgrade to the Calls Creek plant to 3 million gallons per day.
The county does not have permits for either of those upgrades and would need to find a way of discharging any treated sewerage plant effluent above 1.5 million gallons per day directly to the Middle Oconee River, since the EPD has said Calls Creek cannot handle more than 1.5 million gallons per day of treated wastewater.
A proposal to run a sewer line down Calls Creek to reach the Middle Oconee River has produced strong opposition from residents along the creek.
Plans for 1 MGD
In 2015, the county had proposed to the EPD that the existing Calls Creek plant be decommissioned in favor of a recommissioned Davco biological treatment system.
The plan was to purchase a used Davco system, bring it to the Calls Creek plant site, and use it until the county built a sewage plant on the Middle Oconee River.
The Davco system then was to be moved to the Middle Oconee River to be a part of the facility there.
The EPD “concurred” with the plan to use the Davco system in a letter of June 17, 2015.
The county submitted a revised plan to the EPD earlier this year that abandoned the plans for the recommissioned plant in favor of modification of the existing plant.
Haynie told me in a telephone conversation on Dec. 6 that the plans submitted to EPD rely on biological treatment, which has always been the key process of the Calls Creek plant.
In the past, membrane filters have been used to supplement the biological treatment.
Haynie said the plans at present are to defer the decision on whether to retain the membrane filtration system that is in place at the plant at present.
Haynie said it is possible to get the same level of effluent without membranes, which have proven to be costly and difficult to operate, with a different type of filter.
Pressure On County
The pressure on the county to increase the capacity of its sewage treatment system, which includes only the Calls Creek plant and a Land Application System, was in evidence at the Development Review Committee meeting on Friday morning.
Jenanne White, representing Haynie and the Utility Department at that meeting, told Abe Abouhamdan that the county needs to know about plans for the huge Parkside residential project that is coming out of dormancy.
Abouhamdan is representing the developer of the 810-lot residential subdivision that extends from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road and was before the county’s staff review committee to answer questions about the project.
“Right now, the staging and scheduling is very important because of the lack of sewer at the LAS,” White said.
What recommended that Abouhamdan be in touch with Haynie so the county can understand when Parkside will need the residential sewer it has paid for but not used until this point.
Abouhamdan was presenting plans on Friday for a 41-lot subsection of the larger project.