Smaller plants to close when expansion ends

LAWRENCEVILLE - A $250 million contract for the Yellow River plant was approved by commissioners Tuesday. But at the end of the six-year construction period, the county will end up with as much sewage capacity as it started with.

The project helps fulfill a goal to close the county's smaller, less efficient plants, according to Water Resources Director Frank Stephens.

When complete, the Yellow River plant will be able to treat 22 million gallons a day, up from the 14.5 million gallons per day it can treat now.

But when the work is complete, the smaller Jackson Creek and Beaver Ruin plants will be closed.

Stephens said all three plants were built 20 to 30 years ago and were at the end of their usefulness.

It would be cheaper, he said, to consolidate them all into one upgraded plant than to rehab each.

Plus, treatment of 1 million gallons of wastewater costs $900 at the Yellow River plant and between $2,000 and $2,500 each at the other two plants.

The 3-million-gallon-per-day Jackson Creek plant is at the corner of U.S. Highway 29 and Indian Trail Road in Lilburn and the 4.5-million-gallon-per-day Beaver Ruin plant is off Cruse Road behind Sweetwater Middle School.

The Yellow River plant, off Tom Smith Road, is surrounded by neighborhoods, but Stephens said steps are being taken to protect the community, while replacing the old equipment with new technology that will improve water quality.

Already Tuesday, commissioners agreed to decommission two of the smaller county sewage plants.

Closing a Sugar Hill facility, which was built by the city and then transferred to the county system a decade ago, costs $1,200, while the No Business Creek plant in the Snellville area will cost $228,000 to shut down.

Stephens said the prices are disparate because the No Business Creek plant requires more demolition, whereas the contractor can salvage scrap metal at the Sugar Hill site.

The land for both will be offered to other county departments. If not needed by the government, the land could be sold.