Monday, August 27, 2018

Oconee County Has Completed Switchover At Calls Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

***Meeting Permit Standards***

Oconee County has successfully transitioned from its old wastewater treatment facility at Calls Creek on the northeast of Watkinsville to a new one still under construction at the same site.

The switchover from the old treatment facility to the new took place earlier this month, and all of the county's sewage coming into the plant is now being handled by the new facility.

The changeover means that the county is no longer relying on a combination of membrane filters and biological treatment. Instead, the new plant relies entirely on biological treatment.

Erin Carlton, Wastewater Utility supervisor, said the transition has gone smoothly and that the new plant is producing effluent that reliably meets permit standards.

Water Resources Department Director Tim Durham will report to the Board of Commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night on an issue that has affected operation of the Calls Creek plant in the past–infiltration and inflow into county sewer lines.

Durham’s presentation is scheduled for early in the Commission meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Visit To Plant

Construction at the new Calls Creek plant, 1100 Durhams Mill Way, is in two phases. Crowder Construction Company of Conyers is contractor for the $14.4 million upgrade.

Carlton With Aeration Basin, Membrane Building At Rear

The first phase, needed for the switch from the old treatment facility, is complete. The second is underway and will be completed in October, according to Carlton.

I met with Carlton and his assistant, Jake Hayes, last Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 22) at the Calls Creek plant to talk about the first phase of construction and the transition from the older technology to the new.

It has been a not-very-well-kept secret among county leaders that the old plant was being held together in recent months by good wishes and a lot of hard work.

Carlton was straightforward about this during my visit.

“The membranes themselves were on their last legs,” Carlton said. “We were down to one, and it was crippled at best. So it wasn’t really offering the treatment, the capacity that we needed.”

Aeration Basin

The old system relied on what Carlton called both biological and physical (membrane) treatment of sewage.

“That’s not typically how you build wastewater plants,” Carlton said.

The county has stopped using the membranes and built a new aeration basin to replace the smaller one from the old plant.

That new aeration basin is doing the work that was done in the past by the membranes and the smaller aeration basin, Carlton explained.

In the second phase of construction, the county will add a second clarifier, complete a dewatering building, and add a septage receiving station.

Inflow Problem

Water Resources Department Director Durham’s presentation tomorrow night will address a problem the county has confronted in recent years.

Infiltration of the county’s sewage lines has put a strain on the Calls Creek plant during periods of heavy rain.

Last month an estimated 31,250 of untreated sewage spilled into a tributary of Calls Creek as a result of a blockage in a sewer line on Experiment Station Road near the Sheriff’s Office in Watkinsville.

Durham said that the cause of the blockage in the line was a flow meter strap that had become dislodged in the pipe.

The Water Resource Department was using flow meters to monitor inflow of storm water to the pipes in the system.


In the video below, which I shot on my visit, Carlton explains the operation of the new aeration basin at the Calls Creek plant.

I hope to tour the plant and shoot a video of the entire operation once the construction is completed.

OCO: Calls Creek Visit 8/22/2018 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

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