By Johnny Jackson
Henry County water officials plan to have an expanded Bear Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant operational by the end of this month.
The Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority recently expanded the treatment capacity of the plant, located in Hampton, from 250,000 gallons per day to 1.25 million gallons per day.
"We are approaching the end of a long and challenging process to bring a major wastewater treatment plant [Bear Creek] from design to construction, and into final operation," said Lindy Farmer, general manager of the authority. "This is a major milestone among our master plan of capital improvements, designed to increase capacity and improve the flexibility of our wastewater system."
The Bear Creek Plant expansion is an effort to keep pace with growing demand from the water authority's customers, said Roderick Burch, a water authority spokesman.
Burch said the plant, which is currently operating at its former capacity, has undergone expansion testing for about the past month to make for a smooth transition into its expanded capacity.
He said the facility serves hundreds of homes and businesses in the western-most parts of Henry County, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which hosts more than 100,000 visitors on major race weekends.
"On peak days, we're going to get more than 250,000 gallons per day," Burch said.
The expanded facility should be fully operational within the next couple of weeks, and able to handle much more than is required during peak days, according to Pat Hembree, a senior project engineer with the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority.
Hembree said the plant expansion project was permitted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and was completed after two years and $14.5 million of investment.
"Everything is completed with the plant," Hembree said. "We're just getting to the point where we need to increase the capacity of the plant, which gives us much more treatment capacity and allows for more growth."
Hembree said the refurbished plant includes a new sequencing batch reactor, a new sludge digester, a new solids-handling building, and a lined, 14-million-gallon holding pond for treated wastewater.
The Bear Creek Plant is the latest in the water authority's planned projects for wastewater management. The water authority also is planning to expand its larger Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in McDonough.
Burch said the Walnut Creek Plant, one of the Henry water authority's four wastewater plants, currently has a wastewater treatment capacity of 4 million gallons per day, but will be doubled within the next two years to support current and future demand.
On the net:
Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority: www.hcwsa.com