VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - After four months of construction, the City of Valdosta’s Utilities Department has completed the new equalization (EQ) basin at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).
City officials said the EQ basin was needed after the city experienced unprecedented rainfall in December 2018.
This caused the WWTP to ingest more than ten times the average amount of inflow, leading to a spill, according to the city.
The new EQ basin helps alleviate this issue by providing the plant with an additional 7.8 million gallons of storage capacity.
About the plant and the basin work:
The Withlacoochee WWTP was initially constructed in 1980 and was later rebuilt at a higher elevated location in 2016, where it still currently resides. In winter 2018, the WWTP, which is only designed to handle about 12 million gallons of wastewater a day, became inundated with an estimated 37 million gallons, according to the city. At that point, city officials started initiating a program that would allow them to handle those additional flows, and out of that came the equalization basin.
The city’s utilities department began construction on the EQ basin in July.
Utilities Director Darryl Muse said it was a seamless process from the start.
“All the contractors, as well as materials, showed up on time. The city and utility contractor worked well together to make sure we got this done ahead of the anticipated rain events that South Georgia typically experiences in December and January,” said Muse. “Adding the additional 7.8 million gallons of storage capacity will allow the WWTP to take in the excess flows after the rainfall and pump that wastewater back through the treatment process to get it properly treated so that it can then be discharged.”
City Manager Mark Barber said the project has been a priority of his since he took the city’s top leadership role.
“We’ve been working hard to fund projects that will improve our utilities system and prevent any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River,” said Barber. “I am proud of Darryl and the utilities staff for working with EPD to get this project completed. This project shows our commitment to investing in and improving the aging utility infrastructure. We originally estimated this project to cost $2.3 million but it actually came in under budget at $1.8 million, due to work that was done in-house ahead of time by our hard-working city employees.”
However, city officials said the utilities department is not relying on the EQ basin alone to avoid overflows from heavy rain events. In addition to this project, the utilities department also has a number of projects underway.
Lift station generator purchase and installation projects, with their estimated completion date and their cost:
- Auto transfer switch (ATS) installation at 10 lift stations, December 2020, $79,400
- 10 fixed generators with ATS, December 2020, $285,000
- Gornto Road master lift station, 2021, $470,000
- Mud Creek WWTP, 2021, $450,000
- SCADA SYSTEM
- Provided SCADA software for City of Valdosta Utilities Department (includes water and wastewater treatment plants, lift stations, distribution and collection systems)
- Cost: $262,500
“We are fighting this on multiple fronts, and we are working hard to try and make sure we can handle anything that may happen,” said Muse. “I won’t say that we will never have an incident out there. You know nature is pretty relentless. Still, we certainly have come a long way to reassure that this facility will be able to handle any anticipated significant rain event that comes through. As a result of these efforts, residents should see an improvement in the performance of the wastewater system.”