New sewer to allow Sugarloaf to keep growing

LAWRENCEVILLE - One of Gwinnett's prime growth areas could be out of sewage capacity in the next five to eight years, according to a water resources official. But a project approved Tuesday to replace sewer pipes installed in the 1970s will give the Sugarloaf area more room to grow.

In the area near Gwinnett Tech and the Gwinnett Center, engineer Harvey Flamholtz said some of the pipes are eight inches in diameter, which would cause flow problems in the near future.

"There would be bottlenecks that would definitely cause us heartaches," Flamholtz said to the Water and Sewerage Authority on Monday. "With the fines they charge for spills, I think we're better off replacing (the pipes)."

Water Resources Director Frank Stephens said the county may have more time than the five to eight year prediction of when problems will arise, which is included in the department's master plan, because development has not been as quick as originally projected.

"But it's time to get started," Stephens said. "I have personally walked and measured the flow at some of the manholes in the area. I never saw more than half-pipe (full). We're being proactive. We probably have a few more years, but it's a smart thing to do. ... It's less expensive to do it before the area is all filled out."

The first of four phases of the project was approved by the Water and Sewerage Authority on Monday and the Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

At a cost of $4.1 million, crews are expected to take about one year to replace 11,000 linear feet of pipe.

The entire project, which includes replacement of 43,000 linear feet of pipe at an anticipated cost of $24.2 million, should be complete by 2012.