Construction of Richmond Hill’s new Sterling Creek wastewater-treatment plant is getting back on schedule following rain delays, according to the city’s assistant director of planning and zoning.
The state-mandated facility is due to be finished around the end of October and “the engineers feel like they’ll probably meet that time frame because they’ve been catching up in the past month,” Randy Dykes said at last week’s Richmond Hill City Council meeting.
At last update, “they were probably about two to three weeks behind on construction,” Dykes told council members.
“Of course, they had been farther behind because of all the rain that we’ve had.”
The membrane bioreactor wastewater-treatment plant is the largest single expenditure in Richmond Hill’s history, according to city officials.
It will double the city’s capacity to treat wastewater from 1.5 million gallons per day to 3 million gallons per day and can be expanded to 4 million gallons per day.
“It’s really coming together pretty fast now, and you can really get a feel for what the finished product is going to be like,” Dykes said.
“They’re getting close to where all that’s really left to be done is a lot of the electrical and the site work around the plant.”
The approximately $24 million plant is being paid for by increases in water and sewer rates approved by council members in November. The hikes added $8 a month to the base rate while also billing heavy water users more and increasing connection fees.
The first increase took effect in January, and the city will add another increase in 2016.
Without the increases, the city would face a $25 million shortfall in its budget by 2025, officials have said.
The city previously has paid fines for discharge permit violations at the current Sterling Creek treatment plant. The facility was honored by the Georgia Municipal Association in 2007, but in 2008 the city had to settle with the state Environmental Protection Division and sign a consent order to keep it operating because of repeated violations.
Because of those repeated problems with spills, the EPD mandated that a new plant be built. The new facility will be able to meet “more stringent requirements,” according to city officials.
“It’s really impressive,” Dykes said.