Canton to discuss wastewater projects
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
January 18, 2013 12:04 AM | 1526 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Canton City Council held a special meeting Wednesday to hear and discuss updates about the city’s wastewater projects, including whether or not to terminate agreements made with the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority in 2005 and 2007.

The council also heard an update on the design for a $6.4 million addition at the city’s wastewater treatment plant near Boling Park.

City Attorney Bobby Dyer said the city is able to terminate one or both of the 2005 and 2007 agreements made with the CCWSA.

In 2005, the city and authority signed an agreement for service delivery in the Hickory Log Creek area.

The city and authority signed a new agreement in 2007, in which the city would treat 250,000 gallons of wastewater per day for the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken rendering plant at Old Shoal Creek Road in northwest Cherokee County.

Under the agreement, the water authority would pay Pilgrim’s to release its wastewater permit, thus allowing the Environmental Protection Division to issue the permit to the authority. The water authority would build a regional plant, giving Canton 40 percent of its capacity.

Under this agreement, the city of Canton would have been responsible for constructing a pump station and force main.

Now, Pilgrim’s Pride has sold out to another company, and the new company wants to sell the property.

Dyer said the water authority now wants to purchase the Pilgrim’s property and terminate the agreement with the city. No action has been taken under the agreement by either party.

“The city has invested no money,” Dyer said.

City Manager Scott Wood said the city may no longer treat waste from Ball Ground if council members choose to terminate the agreement, which could be a revenue loss of $100,000 per year.

Dyer said the council needs to debate the pros and cons of staying in the agreement before making a decision.

“The pro is that you get that 40 percent capacity. The con is that you’re spending money,” Dyer said.

“With the limited capacity we have currently, 40 percent would be quite an increase for us,” Council Member Glen Cummins said.

David Hatabian, a utilities engineer with the city, said the city would still be responsible for paying treatment costs on that water if the council chooses to remain in the agreement but would not have to pay storage costs.

While discussing the treatment costs, Mayor Gene Hobgood noted that the city wouldn’t be responsible for the up-front costs that would come with building or improving its own facility.

When asked for his opinion on the 2007 agreement, Hatabian told the city to walk away.

“I’d get out of this as soon as I could,” he said.

After some debate among the council, Wood said he would put together a financial analysis comparing the city’s obligations under the 2007 agreement and outside the agreement.

For the Boling Park facility, Infratec Consultants, an Atlanta-based firm, is working on the design of the expansion. Bob Troxler of the firm said the design work is about 85 percent completed.

The expansion will allow the city to reliably treat up to 4 million gallons of wastewater per day.

The plant’s capacity is 3.2 million gallons per day, but Wood said the plant hasn’t satisfactorily been able to handle that kind of volume.

Troxler said the city’s needs could hit 4 million gallons per day in seven or eight years.

The cost for the expansion is estimated at $6.4 million. The original cost estimate was $5.35 million.

The improvements include various filtering systems, basins and other treatment systems.

“We feel as though the cost is probably going to increase,” Hatabian said.

Steve Hewitt of Infratec Consultants estimated that five to 10 firms will bid on the project. The project should be ready to bid this spring, he said.

Construction will take 18 months to reach substantial completion and another four to six months to be completely finished, Hewitt said.

Hatabian said he is looking into financing through a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and hopes to have a loan application to GEFA before the agency’s May board meeting. Interest rates for a 20-year GEFA loan are at 1.4 percent, Hatabian said.

An acre of the area will be reserved for future expansions. Future basins could cost $10 million each.

“When and if you want to expand the plant, you can get up to 6.6 million gallons per day,” Troxler said.

Troxler and Hatabian presented differing opinions on whether to replace the plant’s current filters or to add additional systems to aid the current filters. Both options had approximately the same cost.

“We can make either system work, but there are disadvantages to the current filters,” Troxler said.

A more immediate need for the city’s water treatment is repairs for a lift station.

The city’s lift station at Harmon Fields has been out of service since its motor control center burned out in November, Hatabian said.

The station has been running on temporary pumps and a fuel cell since the control center failed.

“We’ve been going through quite a bit of diesel fuel,” Hatabian said.

Hatabian said he has received two quotes for the work on the pump station, both around $250,000.

The repairs will include new pipes, electric systems and a new generator.

The temporary system has cost about $22,000 so far, Hatabian said. The city has spent $10,000 on pump rental and $10,000 on fuel, with the additional $2,000 going toward electrical costs.

City staff doesn’t know what caused the motor to burn, Hatabian said.

The council also touched on what water and sewer needs may arise if new industries come to Canton.

Hatabian said a prospect has been looking at building in the Bluffs but would need 2 million gallons of water per day and would add 200,000 gallons of sewer per day.

“That would be all the capacity at our current plant and then some,” Hatabian said.

Future options for adding water capacity include expanding the existing water plant, building additional plant space using part of Heritage Park or using Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, Hatabian said.

After some discussion about whether one new company would warrant major improvements or additions, Wood said the city may need to think about improvements from a more general economic development standpoint.

“That industry has helped us realize what our inadequacies are,” he said.

Hatabian told the council that a sewer line along Old Ball Ground Highway is undersized and at its full capacity.

“This line needs to be addressed,” he said.

About 10,000 feet of sewer line needs to be replaced, which could cost about $2 million.

In light of these needed repairs and plant expansions, Hatabian told the city council it would be wise to consider a yearly rate increase of 4 to 4.5 percent.

“We really need to start considering a periodic rate increase every year,” he said.
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