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Return to: 2005 Feature Stories

CLIENT: MACTEC, Inc.

August, 2005: Gwinnett Business Journal

SANITARY, WASTEWATER IMPROVEMENTS WILL BENEFIT COUNTY

For the past five years, Gwinnett County has been one of the fastest growing counties not only in Georgia, but also nationwide. The county's population of 676,000 is projected to almost double to 1.2 million by 2025.

Rapid growth means that the county must deal with significant infrastructure challenges, one of which is how to effectively provide sanitary and wastewater services for this burgeoning population. In addition, many of the county's smaller wastewater facilities are aging and will have to be phased out over the next few years.

Gwinnett County's Water Sewage and Master Plan will help address these challenges One principal component of the Plan is the construction of a 40 million gallons per day (mgd) water reclamation expansion to an existing 20 mgd water reclamation facility. It will send reclaimed water down a 20-mile nonpotable reuse line to an outfall location in the Chattahoochee River near its confluence with Crooked Creek.

The facility, expected to be operational by 2006, will be located on a 700-acre site that has natural and man-made buffers, including forests, ridges and interstate highways. The nearest commercial areas are on Financial Center Way. Total project costs are estimated at $400 million. The facility will be funded through the Gwinnett County Department of Public Utilities' (DPU) Capital Improvement Program (CIP), in combination with impact fee assessments on new connections, water and sewer rates, and available reserve fund. DPU has indicated that revenue bonds may also be issued to fund any remaining costs.

Approximately 155 acres of the facility's site consists of woodlands and wetlands that DPU placed into a restrictive covenant, and will preserve a greenspace that could be lost to development. A proposed adjacent nature center is slated to serve as both an environmental education center and community meeting facility. The county has also expressed a willingness to explore the possibility of a trail connecting the nature center to local neighborhoods.

Because individual septage systems tend to be spread out and not well maintained and easily controlled, public sewer and wastewater treatment plants are considered superior because of:

  • Superior performance
  • Single point of accountability should problems occur
  • The wastewater treatment can be controlled to protect downstream users

While it's difficult to gauge how the Water and Sewer Master Plan will affect residents' quality of life, in general, adequate public sewer service in urban/suburban areas is essential for the community and the environment.

What is the proverbial 'bottom line'? The Water and Sewer Master Plan must continue to move forward in order to provide the necessary infrastructure services to county residents and businesses. Its implementation will ensure that the infrastructure keeps pace with the county's growth over the next 20 years.

Return to: 2005 Feature Stories