Pickens County is in the process of completing a $3.5 million Waste Water Treatment Facility which will replace the original one built in the early 1970s.
“We have been fortunate to have been able to operate the North facility for 40+ years without the need for major improvements to the system. Typically, improved treatment technology, rapid community expansion, or more stringent water treatment regulations require facility improvements before they reach their life expectancy. We can be satisfied that the aged Central North facility served our community very well,” said Director of the Pickens County Public Service Commission, Brian O’Kelley.
The county considers this improvement to be an important aspect of growth.
“What council is doing is modernizing our entire infrastructure such as the sewer plant because it is a vital part for economic growth to occur, and in conjunction with that, the installation of the new sewer lines near highway 123 last year. This will allow future growth along 123 which could not occur without the sewage upgrade,” said Pickens County Administrator, Chappell Hurst.
The replacement of the old sewage plant was carefully considered by both the county and the Public Service Commission.
“For the past several years, the Pickens County Public Service Commission has been studying the financial challenge of replacing this aging facility. In 2009, with preliminary engineering already completed for a replacement facility, Pickens County was in an excellent position to receive federal stimulus funding for “shovel-ready” projects provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Pickens County was awarded a grant of $1,468,000 to complete the North WWTF upgrade. The entire project cost was $3,500,000. All the funding was administered through the USDA-Rural Development,” said O’Kelley.
The new facility will also accommodate a larger portion of residents.
“Traditionally, the Central North WWTF has served citizens on the north side of the railroad in the Town of Central. However, the new expansions at Edwards Jr. High and Daniel High Schools in the 2012-13 school years have required additional sewer services. Fortunately, the new Central North WWTF upgraded facility was permitted by SC DHEC to begin during the same week that Pickens County schools opened their doors. The new WWTF was able to accommodate the additional flows from the schools because the treatment capacity was doubled to 300,000 gallons per day. The additional capacity promises to provide sewer service to new customers including areas north of the town limits. Connecting these schools to the Commission’s sewer system effectively improves the efficiency of local government. In effect, by accepting flows from these schools, local governments have centralized waste treatment from three treatment facilities into one treatment facility. As wastewater treatment systems have evolved over the past few decades, the industry has learned that fewer and larger treatment systems will help to make waste treatment more economical, “said O’Kelley.
Construction of the new plant presented many obstacles and required that work be completed on the new facility without interrupting service of the old one.
“Possibly the biggest challenge to the upgrade installation was building the new facility on the same (very small) site as the existing Central North facility. The site is bounded by steep uplands on one side and tributary to the Twelve-Mile River on the other side. The Harper Corporation from Greenville was contracted in late summer of 2011 to construct the new facility without interrupting treatment service provided by the existing equipment. Though the new treatment components are operational, Harper Corporation has finish grading, sidewalks, roads, grassing, fencing and demolition of the old facility to complete before the project is complete. The expected completion date is late September, 2012,” said O’Kelley.