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City looks to expand sewage capacity
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Springfield city councilmen and other residents were given an overview of the proposed plan for the wastewater treatment facility expansion and the spray field Monday.

Chuck Tessmer of EMC Engineering presented the plan at the hearing.

He said the wastewater treatment facility will be expanded in three phases. The first will increase capacity to 600,000 gallons per day (million gallons per day), the second to 1 million gallons per day and the final capacity of the planned expansion will be 1.5 mgd.

“As part of the initial expansion, what I call the interim expansion to 0.6 mgd, a few things would be done at the treatment plant site,” he said. “It would be to replace some pumps to also replace some filters at the site.”

Tessmer said to increase the plant to 1 million gallons per day, there would be an expansion to the treatment basin. He said there will also be work done at the pond at the treatment facility.

Tessmer said there are positive and negative environmental impacts as a result of the proposed expansion.

“The treatment plant work really has very few negative environmental impacts because we already have the site that has been impacted by the construction of the treatment plant in the first place,” he said. “There are some positive impacts to upgrading this plant. It will have a positive impact on water supply by making reuse water available.”

He added it will have a positive impact on wastewater treatment by adding more capacity and have positive impacts on the discharge stream. Tessmer said as the plant moves to reuse standard there will in the future be less of a need to discharge water into Ebenezer Creek, and eventually there may be no need to discharge water into the creek.

“There are a few negative impacts to the treatment plan expansion,” he said. “You’re going to generate a little bit more solid waste because you’re treating more wastewater. There will be an impact to some forestland. There are some areas that will need to be cleared of tree cover. Minor impact concern on energy use there will be more energy used to run the larger facility, but he said the new equipment will be energy efficient.”

The spray field will be on Long Bridge Road.

Tessmer showed the preliminary plan for what the spray field will look like when complete.

“The site is divided into seven circuits,” Tessmer said. Six of the circuits are on “highly permeable soils that we can apply effluent at the rate of two and a half inches per week.”

Tessmer said the seventh circuit is on less suitable soil but could be used during the summer months. He said less water would be applied over the seventh circuit than the other six.

Tessmer said there is a pond currently on the site, and it will be upgraded to store water before it is applied to the land.

“There are six circuits so that one circuit is basically used every day. It’s possible that you could use one circuit for half the day, and another circuit for the other half. It allows the operator some flexibility.”

Tessmer said it will also allow the fields to be rotated for maintenance and mowing.

“This is shown with 25-foot buffers along the property line,” Tessmer said. There are some areas that have larger buffers planned.

“The buffers that are shown here are for water that is treated to reuse quality, which is the goal of the .6 mgd expansion,” Tessmer said.

Tessmer said the pond will hold between 1 million and 1.5 million gallons. Tessmer said there was also an environmental information document done on the spray field site.

“This project also has some good positive effects for the community in terms of increasing water supply, protecting streams in the area and it does have some negative impacts,” he said.

Tessmer said there will be erosion that the city will have to deal with at the site. He said there were gopher tortoise burrows found at the site.

There are two areas in Georgia that can accept the gopher tortoise and there was an area in South Carolina that also was explored, according to Tessmer. But based on knowledge from other spray fields built in Georgia, the spray field itself may not be damaging to the gopher tortoises.

Tessmer said the burrows can be mapped before work begins and worked around while the spray field is being developed.

“Once the site is cleared, it won’t negatively impact the gopher tortoise,” he said. He said they have found that the tortoises prefer open areas.

Councilman Dennis Webb asked if there will be a structure with the controls.

Tessmer said there will be a location next to the pond with the controls for the system.

Tessmer said currently the listed capacity of the spray field approximately 460,000 gallons per day. He said that is using the six circuits that would be allowed during the entire year.

Usher asked if when the expansion of the treatment plant is complete if the city will need to look at other ways to dispose of wastewater.

Public Works Director Lowell Morgan said the city is already looking at options.

“We’re looking at two things,” Morgan said. “Do we put in pumps at the plant that pump only to this pond, or do we put in pumps that are capable of sending that water all the way to Mock Road.”

Tessmer said as the reuse customer base expands there would be a need for upgrading equipment to pump water to the locations.

Cynthia Arnsdorff, a Springfield resident asked how Mock Road may come into play.

Morgan said there is agricultural land on Mock Road where the reuse water could be used.

Tessmer said it is a higher elevation, and further away, which would require stronger pumps.

Arnsdorff asked what reuse water was.

Tessmer said it is treated wastewater that has gone through more filtering.

Arnsdorff said she is concerned about erosion.

Tessmer said there will be preventative measures taken to limit erosion on the property.

Don Stack from Savannah asked if there was the growth potential in order to expand the wastewater plant four to five times its current capacity.

Tessmer said yes, and much of the need is for areas that the city has approved that when developed the city will need to provide water.

“I want to say that there are approximately 900 home sites that have been approved in the city’s service area,” Tessmer said.

Stack said his concern is his experience of seeing spray fields that are not run the way they are designed. He said has seen facilities that over apply, and saw an issue with the treatment plant having more capacity than the spray field. He also addressed concerns with nitrogen.

“I think what people are concerned about when you’re looking at an area that includes Ebenezer Creek that is one of only four scenic rivers in the state,” Stack said.

Tessmer said nitrogen is something that is designed around during the development stages.

Arnsdorff asked if there would be fences placed around the spray field.

Tessmer said no, this water can be safely exposed to the public.

“This is the kind of water you put on a golf course,” Tessmer said.

Arnsdorff asked if it could be used on crops that people would eat.

Tessmer said there are guidelines that would be restrictions on procedure that would allow, but the intended use in the area is for hay crops for livestock consumption.

Arnsdorff said she still has concerns with the project especially if there is a time when the area has a significant amount of rainfall over a long period of time.

“My concern all along has been this creek,” Arnsdorff said. “This creek is scenic. It has scenic status it has national landmark status.”

Arnsdorff said her husband worked for the Environmental Protection Division, and she knows EPD permits a lot, and has a lot of problems with projects it permits. Once problems occur it is difficult to correct the problem.

“I don’t know that I feel comfortable as a citizen with what may happen to the creek, and that has been my concern all along,” Arnsdorff said. “I question the wisdom of this, and I question the wisdom of buying and paying for it before it’s been permitted.”

Arnsdorff said she hoped this would not be a mistake seen years down the road.

“We need to think this through so your grandchildren can enjoy the creek,” Arnsdorff said.

Tessmer said science continuously moves forward, and the design and permitted based on the rules, and current science.