Oconee County posted a public notice on its Utility Department home page late Friday afternoon announcing a sanitary sewer force main break at its Calls Creek wastewater plant located at 1100 Durhams Mill Way on the north side of Watkinsville.
According to the announcement, the break was discovered at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Friday at the pump station at the base of the plant.
Based on standards of the state Environmental Protection Division, the discharge into the creek “is classified as a minor spill,” according to the announcement.
A force main is a line in which liquid is under pressure.
|Sign At Creek (Click To Enlarge)|
The county moves sewage from its collector at Calls Creek via a pump up hill to the wastewater treatment plant.
When it discovered the spill, the county immediately notified EPD and the Oconee County Environmental Health Department, according to the announcement.
The county also placed a hand-lettered sign on the Calls Creek at the site of the spill notifying the public of the discharge.
Erin Carlton, county Wastewater Utility supervisor, sent me photos this afternoon that he had taken of the sign.
Water Quality Sampling
County personnel inspected Calls Creek at several locations downstream of the spill to determine if there were any negative effects of the release of the raw sewage, the announcement stated.
The county conducted tests for acidity (pH), temperature, fecal coliform, and dissolved oxygen, according to the announcement.
“The flow in the stream appears to have diluted the small wastewater plume,” the announcement said.
The county had a series of problems with the operation of the Calls Creek plant in 2015, but Jenanne White, administrative assistant for the Utility Department, told me this afternoon that the county has had no spills at the Calls Creek plant since the end of 2015.
Upgrade To Plant
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote tomorrow (Tuesday) night on a $13.5 million upgrade to the Calls Creek plant.
The plant currently is permitted for .667 million gallons per day of discharge, but Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie is asking for approval of construction of a 1.5 million gallons per day facility.
Included in the design before the Commission are features that will accommodate a future upgrade to 3.0 million gallons per day.
Both designs would increase the volume of untreated sewage water that would reach the plant and that the creek would have to assimilate in the event of future spills.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.