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City faces big projects in 2011
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The wetlands of Richmond Hills wastewater treatment plant near Sterling Creek. The plant is slated for upgrades and expansion in 2011. (File photo)

The biggest project of 2011 for Richmond Hill will be the expansion and upgrade of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, but the possible annexation of about 900 acres for the Belfast Business Center is a close second, according to city officials.
The project to fix the treatment plant, which is currently operating at capacity, should be under construction by the spring or early summer, said City Manager Mike Melton.
The current facility, located near Sterling Creek, was built in 1997. The city received a “Trendsetter Award” from Georgia Trend Magazine in 2007 for innovation in creating the 500-acre all-natural wastewater treatment facility, which doubles as a wildlife sanctuary.
But the plant is also at capacity and it needs to be expanded and upgraded to catch up with the city’s growth. There were a series major spills reported in the summer and fall in which treated wastewater exceeding discharge limits flowed from the wetlands into Elbow Swamp. The spills were all considered “major” since they exceeded allowed discharge limits by more than 50 percent.
Plans are in motion to expand and upgrade the plant from treating the current 1.5 million gallons per day to 4 million gallons per day. The project is estimated to cost around $21 million and will be paid for by sales tax revenues, if voters pass a referendum in November, as well as user fees, Melton said previously.
Just last month, a consent order was finalized between Richmond Hill and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The city council approved the order in September but had to wait until the director of the EPD also signed off on it.

For more, pick up a copy of the Dec. 29 edition of the News.

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