Ashburn sewage problem and Moultrie 2022-09-16

Update 2022-09-23: One Mile Branch Fish Kill 2022-09-23.

Ashburn needs to get a grip on its sewage problem.

This summer, in five separate incidents, Ashburn spilled 1,229,000 gallons of raw sewage into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River.

Moultrie has a much tinier sewage problem, spilling 500 gallons into Okapilco Creek, which runs into the Withlacoochee River.

And no, we haven’t forgotten about Tifton’s spill or Valdosta’s five summer spills or the spills by Starke and High Springs, Florida. Those we have reported separately, and all of them together (plus the Moultrie spill) do not add up to Ashburn’s 400,000 gallon August 19th spill, much less Ashburn’s 800,000 gallon August 25th spill.

[Summer 2022 Ashburn and Moultrie sewage spills]
Summer 2022 Ashburn and Moultrie sewage spills

Ashburn’s excuses varied:

  • 2022-07-14: 2,000 gallons, “Natural Disaster”
  • 2022-08-19: 400,000 gallons, “Wet weather”
  • 2022-08-25: 25,000 gallons, “Equipment failure”
  • 2022-08-25: 800,000 gallons, “Wet weather”
  • 2022-09-14: 2,000 gallons, “Power failure”

“Wet weather” does not seem like an adequate excuse for spilling 1,200,000 gallons of raw sewage.

Ashburn got $1,680,000.00 in federal ARPA funds Maybe that will halp stop these incessant Ashburn sewage spills.

Project Summary

The City of Ashburn is home to 4291 people and is located in Turner County. It’s in a 31714-zip code.

The City provides sanitary sewer service under NPDES PERMIT No. GA0025852. The City is in desperate need of rehabilitation of older portions of the collection system to eliminate severe inflow and infiltration(I&I) of storm water and groundwater. During and after rainfall events, I & I inundate the system, resulting in sewage overflows and increased treatment costs and demand. Two areas of the Collection system have been identified as major contributors to the I&I of the system due to age, vitrified clay pipe and brick manholes that have outlived their useful life. The City has received at least 8 Notice of violation letters since 2012. Although the City has made improvements over the years, they had not had the funding needed to make improvements that could provide the greatest impact.

The City has secured an CWSRF loan for $1,680,000 from GEFA to provide sewer rehabilitation, lift station repairs, and generator installation. However, due to rising construction prices during the Covid-19 Pandemic the City will be unable to complete the entire area of rehabilitation that was originally planned withing the original budget.

The City has agreed to raise rates to cover the debt service on the CWSRF loan. With a poverty rate of 36.9 % any further increase to rates would be burdensome to residents and small local businesses. Without additional funding, the City will not be able to complete the needed infrastructure improvements and affordable funding options for the small community are limited.

The total estimated project cost is $3,360,000.00. The City is requesting $ 1,680,000 in federal grant funds to provide sewer rehabilitation in the Target Areas, and the various work detailed at the treatment plant, and Lift station. The City will match dollar for dollar with the $1,680,000 GEFA CWSRF loan. Because these areas serve as trunk lines and the I&I through these lines has detrimental effects on the WPCP that serve the entire City, the proposed project will benefit the entire population of 4291 in the 31714-zip code

Project activities and measurable goals include rehabilitation of approximately 20,000 linear feet of gravity sewer and 690 vertical feet of manholes, installation of generators, bar screen, lift station repairs and Equalization basins, engineering design, permitting, public advertising, and bidding of construction, contract award, commencement and completion of construction.

Project Design and Implementation

To prevent sewage overflows and inundation of the sewage collection system, the City of Ashburn proposes to rehabilitate two areas of the sewage system. Area 1 West End Pond east toward the northern part of Ashburn. Area 2 is located down town (Business Areas) and follow the Hat Creek Basin. Improvements and measurable objects include cured-in-place-pipe rehabilitation of approximately 20,000 linear feet of 8” vitrified clay sewer mains, pipe bursting of approximately 5000 linear feet of 8” sewer main, cementitious lining of approximately 690 vertical feet of brick manholes, and replacement of sewer service laterals (from the main to the right-of-way) with cleanouts. These rehabilitation methods will seal the structures, preventing intrusion of flood and ground water. These methods also restore structural integrity to the sewer lines. Each of these installation methods is a trenchless technology that can be performed within the existing structures with little to no disturbance to the surrounding ground. These improvements will reduce I&I of the sewage collection system, preventing overflows and reducing energy usage. The reduction and prevention of overflows will also reduce contamination of waterways or potential exposure to residents from the sewage collection system. The other improvements are located at or near the WPCP and include: generator at WPCP, Security fence upgrade at plant, bar screen, installation of hoist at SBR for launching small boat for repairs, replacement of SBR valves, aerators, secondary measuring device, EQ basin. Lift Station repairs include: repair Rock House road generator, upgrade pumps at Rock house lift station, install by-pass connection at Hatfield Lift station, and construct diversion/ EQ basin at Zorn Pond.

It is expected that these improvements will comprise two projects (sewer rehabilitation and WCPCP/ lift Station repairs) that will be designed by a Georgia Registered Professional Engineer. Engineering design for the project has begun. Once design sewer is complete, the project will be advertised publicly for competitive bids in accordance with Georgia’s Public Works Laws. The measurable objectives and milestones for this project will include: project initiation (award of grant funds), engineering design, advertising for construction bids, opening of bids, award of contract, commencement of construction and completion of construction.

The project will be managed by the City’s Consulting Engineer who is experienced in managing projects of this nature. A detailed timeline for the proposed project is included in the supporting documentation for Project Design and Implementation.

The City’s consulting engineer will be responsible for the project management. During construction, the engineer will review the contractors pay request for payments. Upon approval, the City Manager will review for concurrence. The City Manager will be responsible for managing grant funding and maintain records of payments.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!