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New plant to be built at Lanier
Government loan will pay for treatment facility

LAWRENCEVILLE - A new wastewater treatment plant for the Lake Lanier Islands won a $15 million government loan.

The money, from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, will go toward the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority's construction of a new 500,000 gallon-per-day wastewater treatment plant.

Shawn Davis, a spokesman for the Lake Lanier Islands management company, said the plant will replace a 350,000 gallon-per-day plant that was built in the early 1970s.

"It's more and more difficult to maintain the plant due to its age," he said. "Not only is it difficult to maintain, we're not able to meet the same effluent standards."

Effluent is the water that is discharged from the plant. Davis said the new project should increase the water quality by 70 to 90 percent, putting it on par with water discharged from the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center in Buford.

That project won the approval of the Lake Lanier Association, which is trying to get other entities around the lake to meet its standards.

"It will be exponentially cleaner than it is today," Davis said.

The amount of water discharged into Lake Lanier will not change, he said. Once more water is being treated, it will go toward landscaping the resort.

The new plant is expected to be online in December 2009. The project will also replace some pump stations, automating them, and pay for the extension of some sewer lines.

The project will be repaid through leases with the management company. The development authority will pay back the loan over 15 years with a 3.75 percent interest rate.

In a press release, Gov. Sonny Perdue said he was pleased the investment was being made in sewer system infrastructure because it will promote economic development and create new jobs.

Katy McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Lake Lanier Islands, said the water park would be taking steps to conserve water in light of the drought in the region.

Instead of staying open seven days a week, the Islands will be closed on Mondays, except holidays, through the summer.

"We made that decision earlier this spring," she said. "We knew we needed to do something to conserve water."

McLaughlin said most of the water used in the park goes back into Lake Lanier, which is more than 13 feet blow its full pool level. Still, the move will save between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons of water for each of the 16 Mondays the park is closed.

Mondays are one of the Islands' slowest days, McLaughlin said, and the decision should not adversely impact attendance. The park opened Saturday for the weekend, and will be open daily beginning Thursday.