CAVE SPRING — Cave Spring City Council learned Tuesday the $5.1 million upgrade to the city’s aging sewerage system mostly likely won’t begin until October — six months behind the original schedule projected more than two years ago.
“This is a project that’s going to be close to $6 million and we want to be sure that we’re getting every bit of value out of the money we’re going to spend on that and successfully do something that’s going to benefit Cave Spring for many, many years to come,” returning Mayor Rob Ware told the council.
The board met for an early work session to get an update on the project from Turnipseed Engineers President Chris Poje.
The upgrade is vital to bring the system into compliance with a Georgia Environmental Protection Division order to fix the system or shut it down. A $1.2 million earmark in the 2017 SPLOST package gave the council leverage to win several state and federal grants and loans for the project that’s been in the planning stages since May 2017.
After all is said and done, the city will only be liable for the $1.2 million, Poje pointed out.
In addition to addressing a chlorination issue that prompted the EPD consent order, the project also is needed to prevent the continued overflow of untreated wastewater, to regain enough lost system capacity to serve residents and businesses in need, and protect the health of streams in Floyd County, Poje said.
“As you look at your collection system, sometimes folks will say ‘We need bigger sewers, we need more sewers, we need more wastewater treatment capacity,’ but what they really need is less rain water and creek water and ground water in their system,” he said. “In effect, by eliminating some things, you’re creating capacity.”
The project has run behind mostly because the lack of rain has prevented the monitoring of the flow meters through the manholes, delaying proper analysis.
“We paused for a period of time because we didn’t feel we were honoring your wishes unless we fully documented everything,” Poje said.
“We needed to come in and get the low-hanging fruit early and get some of the emergency repairs done and some of the initial subsurface surveys done,” he noted. “We had to take cameras down sewer lines and figure out what’s going on with the lines and where you’ve got flow coming in that’s not supposed to be there and what needs to be repaired.”
Now that the flow analysis has been completed, Turnipseed discovered that the sewer flow per customer is more then eight times that of the water purchased and nearly nine times that of normal sewer flow in Georgia.
That’s an additional 41 to 65 million gallons per year over what would be expected for a system of similar size, according to Turnipseed’s report.
“Additional flow puts extra wear and tear on equipment,” Poje said.
The company also found that groundwater may be entering the sewerage system near Perry Farm Road and that someone on Cedartown Road south of the city most likely has a sump pump that is emptying into the sewer.
The lining certain pipes to residences and businesses and raising manholes and making them more water tight will need to be done, he said.
Getting a handle on local beaver dams also is of concern for the proper flow of water, council members agreed.
“I fight them every day,” Councilman Charles Jackson said, adding the dams are causing water to come right up to the top of some of the manholes.
Poje said they believe early 2022 for the completion of the project is a realistic projection at this point.
Councilwoman Nancy Fricks couldn’t have been more thrilled with the progress so far.
“It’s very badly needed and has been for several years,” Fricks said. “We can’t grow, we can’t build any new houses for the simple reason we can’t put them on the sewer system. I think they’re doing a wonderful job. We’re finally seeing some progress and it’s a blessing to start getting it all done.”