The City of Cedartown is likely going to be borrowing some money in the near future from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for several wastewater-related projects that are in dire need of being completed. City Manager Bill Fann and City Engineer Ronnie Wood expect the costs to tally up to around $2.5 million for all the upgrades the city will need to complete to fix a big problem that is causing additional workload on city wastewater employees.
That price tag will look to solve a lot of wastewater woes the city is currently feeling with a upgraded main lift station on Blanche Street, a new lift station on Cave Spring Road and fixes to a critical piece of equipment in the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
Fann and Wood laid out a list of problems — and showed off some pictures of the facilities — during a presentation to the Cedartown City Commission on Monday, March during a work session attended by Commission chair Jordan Hubbard and Commissioners Matt Foster and Dale Tuck.
The trio got to see for themselves the litany of problems plaguing the wastewater system, which includes leaky facilities, pumps running harder than specifications allow for and a broken piece of equipment meant to screen trash out of the water being treated without human intervention.
“As has been the norm for the past six years, we’re going to fix something that someone else should have,” Fann said.
He pointed to past administrations having put off critical and costly repairs of equipment that keeps wastewater flowing outward from homes and businesses, street gutters and drains back into the combined storm water and wastewater systems.
“If we’d handled these issues one at a time over the past 15 years, we would be in a lot better shape today,” he said.
The issues with the lift stations go all the way back to 2002, when then city manager Barry Atkinson detailed cost estimates for replacement and repairs for city commissioners at the time, and left the information behind. Fann said he was cleaning out old records when he found Atkinson’s work.
That he said is causing a lot of problems, mainly one headache being the inflow and infiltration of groundwater and storm water into systems not designed to handle it. For instance, the main lift station on Blanche Street has a number of leaks from groundwater penetrating into the site. Enough that in one area a leak is being caught by a bucket on the floor, which sits next to breaker boxes and electrical equipment meant to keep pumps running.
Cave Spring’s lift station also has problems with infiltration of water in the system, and in recent weeks went down and caused a 4,000 gallon spill forcing pump repairs, where a baseball was found inside one. The backup pump overheated during use and cause the spill.
The lift station on North Main Street — which is currently being operated by temporary portable pumps — has new pumps with grinders installed to ensure that anything going through it comes out as a fine mush.
Those however are on backorder for a third time, Fann said.
As far as capacity is concerned, Wood said the city has no problems there. It can handle what is coming in from customers and much more.
Where the problem lies is in the system being combined with storm water, which adds to the millions of gallons being treated by the water treatment plant.
Additionally, trash getting into the waste water plant isn’t effectively being collected because a rotary-based bar screen system has been out of operation, forcing workers to clear out trash by hand.
All of this and more — replacement of some sewer lines on Cave Spring Road and Blanche Street as part of their overall facility projects for pumps — will solve a lot of the problem, Fann said.
He added that it is likely funding for the project will have to be borrowed through financing from GEFA, since bonds are being seen as a affordable option for the upfront cash needed to pay for the work.
In the city’s most recent wastewater project, bonds were used to pay for a new sewer line and lift station for Polk Medical Center on Highway 278. Rates aren’t attractive at this point on the bond market, Fann said.
He hopes the city will be able to get a low rate with GEFA instead, who were set to come look at what the city had in mind mid-week following the work session. Fann said rates could be as low as 1.25 percent on the at least $2.5 million the county would need to fund the replacement lift stations and equipment.