Every council member is assigned to a committee. I was assigned to the Water, Sewer and Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) committee. Therefore, at every council meeting, I give a brief summary report. I wanted to learn more about these vital systems so I requested a tour of our facility. During Thursday’s cold and windy morning, Jennifer Oetgen of Hussey Gay Bell lead a tour of the facility for myself, Mayor Benton and Councilman Hutcherson.
Needless to say, we all learned a great deal about the operations of the facility. Years ago the City turned over the entire system of sewer and wastewater equipment and facilities to a Richmond Hill based company, EOM. When the facility came online in 2004, the maximum load at the WWTP was 1 million gallons a day (mgd). Upgrades and expansions were made as the city grew to 2.5 mgd. Our current capacity is 3.3 mgd. Most days the plant runs at approximately 2.6 mgd. Therefore, further expansion is needed. When a plant reaches 70% capacity, plans are started for expansion. At 80% capacity, permitting is obtained, and at 90% capacity, the design stage is begun which is where we are at currently. The next and final expansion will put the facility at 6.223 mgd.
Taking into account Pooler’s fully developed outlook according to the land use map and master plan, this next expansion should be the last expansion needed to provide for our city’s full development. However, if the council rezones an area to multi-family, this would change the capacity calculations. Therefore, as a council we need to seriously consider any rezoning petitions to rezone to multi-family. Adding more multi-family areas to our master plan could potentially require another expansion because multi-family zones dispense a greater amount of wastewater.
On a personal note, I handled the tour quite well until we entered one facility where all of the solid waste is dehydrated and looks a lot like mud pies or brownies, but the smell was overwhelming to me. I was the only one who almost lost my cookies and was the laughing stock. I was told if I had not controlled it, pictures would surely have been taken! I have a better understanding of the system and a great admiration for our city employees that work at the facility and the EOM workers.