Guyton’s joint public workshop with the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper left attendees with more questions about a proposed wastewater treatment plant than answers. Local citizens and affected groups are doing what they can to try and stop Guyton from moving forward with its plans; however, it seems their efforts may be a little too late.
Over the past three to four years, Guyton City Council has been struggling with water and sewer issues. Their intergovernmental agreement with Springfield gave them an allotment of 82,129 gallons per day. But by 2005, they were reaching their capacity with an average of 74,417 gpd. And Springfield was nearing its own capacity limit.
In the meantime, developers were still requesting council to approve tap-in fees, but Guyton had to deny their request, which inevitably cost the developers thousands of dollars in interest payments for property that they could not use. The city began looking at what they saw as their options: tie in with the county, expand usage with Springfield or build its own plant.
They decided to get Hofstadter and Associates, Inc to look into the situation and after obtaining various rates for each option, city council chose to build its own plant and as Mayor Michael Garvin said, “control their own destiny.” They applied for a Georgia Fund loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for $13.35 million and were approved with a 20-year repayment schedule and 4.1 annual percentage rate.
On June 10, the day after the public workshop, Hofstadter and Associates submitted to EPD the design development report (DDR) required for the project. According to the document, Guyton has decided to build a 500,000 gpd plant that will allow for future expansion to a 1 million gallons per day and ultimately to 2 mgd. They plan to retain the discharge capacity they have with Springfield.
The final disposal of the treated water will be handled three different ways: flow directly into the Ogeechee River via point discharge either during cold weather only or year round depending on permit; spray onto spray fields; and/or, discharge to an urban water reuse system.
City officials say that the repayment of the GEFA loan will come primarily from future development. According to the DDR, there are 569 lots on hold that require sewer services.
“Right now, it is calculated that tap-ins will pay for this plant,” Garvin said.
But some residents are worried that Guyton residents will be stuck footing the bill if projected growth in the area does not occur. Another concern is flooding.
Many long-term residents of the Riverside/Old Louisville Road area say that flooding occurs in this area. They want to know how the city plans to address the potential situation.
Environmental issues are another major concern. Several citizens and adjacent landowners are concerned with the potential threat of pharmaceuticals in the effluent that would be sprayed on spray fields.
With all the issues combined, the citizens really want to know why Guyton is not tying into the county’s new WWTP.
At the public workshop, both Ruth Lee and Frank Arden urged city council to meet with county officials once again in order to work out a deal that would benefit all parties. Lee requested that the meetings be held publicly in order to give the citizens a chance to address both governmental entities.
Brown said that the OCRK also plans to hold a meeting in July. However, with the land purchases closed and the GEFA loan secured, it appears that any input the citizens may have in regards to stopping the proposed plant may be moot. Whether or not the concerned residents have a say in how the WWTP disposes of its wastewater is still unknown.
Over the next few weeks, the Herald will be reporting more on each concern.