Friday, September 20, 2013
GEORGETOWN S.C. — The City of Georgetown’s Wastewater Treatment Plant is out of compliance with the Department of Health and Environmental Control regulations, and has been for years.
Now, steps are being taken to correct the problems that have caused the city to be hit with costly fines on numerous occasions within the past decade. But the plans announced earlier this year may be changed.
On Thursday night, City Council agreed to spend $42,000 for Shealy Consulting, LLC to compile a Headworks Analysis (HWA) of the plant.
The HWA will investigate the waste stream coming into the WWTP and the plant’s ability to treat not only the capacity of but also the concentration and the type of pollutants, Jonathan Heald, the city’s public services director wrote in a memo.
“Given our recent difficulties with treating our waste stream from the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District, this is an excellent time to review the treatment ability of our plant and to tighten up our requirements, if necessary, under a state mandate,” Heald wrote.
Heald said Shealy has already been helping the city with its WWTP problems and “their expert advice has been invaluable” which is why he feels they need to be the ones to do the HWA.
Once the analysis is complete, and funding can be acquired, the steps to actually correct the problems can begin.
The problem, Heald explained at an earlier meeting, is the size of the holding pond at the WWTP. It is much too big.
The water is clean after it is treated and placed in the pond, Heald said. However, the water can only be released from the pond into the river while the tide is falling. It is while the water is sitting in the pond “mother nature takes over and does what mother nature does” and causes pollution, Heald said. “The water is in good shape when it goes in the holding pond.”
Since 2003, the WWTP has had the capacity to clean as much as 12 million gallons per day but only treats about four million gallons daily.
After the water is treated it is sent to a 22-acre retention pond where it sits until it can be released into the river. DHEC says the city is discharging too much of a bacteria called Enterococcus. City officials said that type of pollution is caused by seagulls and alligators that go into the retention pond.
It is bodily waste from the birds and alligators that cause the unacceptable increase in Enterococcus.
Earlier this year Heald said the way to solve the problem is to subdivide the huge holding pond into smaller units so the water is not staying stagnant as long before being discharged into the river. It has been estimated that would cost more than $1.25 million.
Thursday, Heald told council he may have a way to accomplish the goal without the expensive subdivision of the pond. He did not give specifics of his new plan.
He said he will meet with DHEC Monday to see if they accept the new plan.
“The pond may not address our long term goals. I feel we can do something better but I must convince DHEC,” Heald said.
By Scott Harper
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