By Mayor Russ Deen
Get ready for drama, excitement and maybe even a little romance!
Just kidding. This is an article about wastewater. I spent the better part of a day figuring out how to make this interesting but I’ll settle for informative. Pour another cup of coffee and get comfortable.
In early 2021, the Georgia Environmental Protect Division reached out to the City of Guyton to inform it that it needed to renew its Land Application System permit. The current one expired in 2018 and was nearing the end of an administrative extension.
The new permit had a significant change that the city was not expecting. Two of our three spray fields were no longer useable due to a change in the FEMA Flood Plain Map, lowering our capacity to spray wastewater from 150,000 gallons per day to just 50,000 gallons per day.
On average, the City of Guyton produces 100,000 gallons a day, meaning the change would bring growth to a halt and create a desperate need for capacity to cover our current needs.
Guyton reached out to City Engineer Wesley Parker, City Attorney Ben Perkins and our Water/Sewer Operations team of EOM, including Charlie Heino and Bree Thomas. We began looking for solutions, including new spray fields, saving the existing fields and a process EOM had already begun, solving the intrusion and infiltration issues all older sewer systems are prone to (intrusion and infiltration is when stormwater gets into the sewer system through low manholes, damaged pipes and incorrectly plumbed storm drains. Stormwater doesn’t need to be treated and is wasted treatment capacity.)
Guyton arranged a meeting with the head of the EPD, Richard Dunn. Dunn and his team were understanding and helpful but straightforward with the requirements needed to protect our local environment and citizens. I respect the work they do and appreciate the assistance they’ve given Guyton over these past seven months.
Through the efforts of the EPD and Guyton teams, we found common ground and a path forward. Guyton will be allowed to use its current three fields for the next 42 months while its builds new spray fields on land already owned by the city near the plant, saving the city and citizens money and precious time so that we can obtain the capacity we need for the present and the future growth of our city.
Under our revised draft permit, Guyton is limited to 150,000 gallons per day for the next 42 months, which means we have no wiggle room in the event of rainy months. Guyton is currently discussing additional capacity with our neighboring city and previous sewer provider, Springfield, led by Mayor Barty Alderman. This additional capacity will prevent consent orders from the EPD (a penalty for exceeding capacity) and allow for Guyton to continue to grow, including the development of Mossy Hollow subdivision and Guyton Station, a new development south of the intersection of Hwy 119 and Hwy 17, including a new business district.
These homes and businesses will offset the cost of the purchased capacity and allow us to continue making our bond payments on the sewer system without the need to raise water and sewer rates on Guyton’s citizens. The infrastructure to run sewer to Springfield already exists so there will be no new capital costs for this temporary solution.
Guyton has not raised water or sewer rates since the current council took office.
The development of new spray fields will provide the capacity needed to allow us to grow without incurring new debt. Guyton has the necessary funds required to build these fields without raising water and sewer rates.
We’re also investigating grant sources to lessen the cost to the city, allowing us to continue providing new and better services for all our citizens.
I am blessed to have an amazing team of council members, city hall staff, police department and all our contracted professionals to make this city a great place to live in and do business.
Councilman Marshall Reiser’s previous article in the Herald led to a new catchphrase for our city. Life is GOOD in Guyton. It was true then, true today and it’s our mission to make it true for years to come.