County plans new design for pipeline

LAWRENCEVILLE - Officials are going back to the drawing board on a plan to pump treated wastewater into Lake Lanier.

About a year after lake advocates and government officials called a truce over the controversial plan, commissioners agreed Tuesday to spend another $1.2 million to redesign the pipeline that will take the wastewater from a treatment plant to the lake.

According to Lynn Smarr of the Department of Water Resources, the biggest changes come from the compromise reached after a five-year legal battle over how to discharge the water.

The county agreed to relocate a diffuser to mix the wastewater with the lake water. The new site is 550 feet to the west (closer to Buford Dam), 300 feet longer and 71 feet deeper than an original permit from the Environmental Protection Division stipulated.

Smarr said the county has to study the topography of the lake in the new location as well as make some minor modifications to lessen the impact on homeowners.

"The agreement was great for Gwinnett County. It spares us any further litigation," she said. "We just have to bear some expenses."

Chairman Charles Bannister said he believed the changes would lead to a better project.

"It's for the benefit of the wildlife, the fish, the lake," he said. "It'll work for the benefit of all."

Also Tuesday, commissioners agreed to spend nearly $3 million to build a half-mile portion of the pipeline at the same time that crews will be out on a safety project for Sycamore Road.

Water and Sewerage Authority members complained Monday that the Department of Transportation's contract went to the lowest overall bidder, but the bid actually came out higher on the pipeline construction.

According to Smarr, the only other portion of the pipeline that has been built is a one-mile stretch along Satellite Boulevard that was placed in the ground when the road was extended.

"It's crucial for our infrastructure needs," Commissioner Kevin Kenerly said of the pipeline.