Sludge-filled lagoons, other problems found at PTC water treatment plant; officials initially blamed wrong lake
Fayette County’s smelly, foul-tasting water problem seems to be abating, and steps are being taken to address the issue that were recommended by a consultant and approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
In a report to the county last week, consultant Stuart B. Jeffcoat of the CH2M-Hill firm noted that stopping the raw water flow from the Starr’s Mill Pond “has significantly improved the odor in the raw water” and that no odor was detected from the raw water being pumped from Lake Peachtree.
Jeffcoat said water quality testing should confirm that the majority of the taste and odor problem came from the Starr’s Mill Pond. Initially when the first complaints began four weeks ago, water system officials had thought the trouble originated in Lake Peachtree.
A contributing factor to the problems is that the sludge lagoon and the backwash water lagoon at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant “are almost completely filled with solids, and the decant from these lagoons discharges almost directly at the raw water pump station in the reservoir,” Jeffcoat wrote.
Jeffcoat also wrote that he would be recommending other non-emergency measures be taken in the coming weeks and months at the plant to modify the water treatment process. Those recommendations are not critical to remediating the taste and odor issue but will help “prevent further water quality excursions,” Jeffcoat wrote.
The estimated cost of the remediation has reached nearly $320,000 including an estimated $260,000 to remove sludge from two lagoons at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant and apply it to a field owned by the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority.
The county has also partnered with WASA to build a connection so less than 3 million gallons of the smelly water can be discharged into the sewer system for treatment. That act will cost nearly $70,000. The county also has authorized spending $20,000 for an outside consulting firm to evaluate the taste and odor of the water and also assess the water system’s equipment, staff and procedures.
The water will have to be removed before the sludge matter can be addressed, according to county documents.
EPD and the county’s consulting firm, CH2M Hill, have said that a contributing factor to the odorous water may be the “continual, almost closed-loop recycling within the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant.”
EPD recommends that the plant find a way to treat and remove the filter backwash effluent and solids from the sedimentation basin.
EPD has approved the water system’s request to stop using the Starr’s Mill Pond reservoir for at least two weeks and a host of other measures including sampling of Lake Peachtree, Lake Horton, Starr’s Mill pond and the raw water reservoir for cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), the organic compound geosmin and the organic chemical MIB (2-methylisoborneol).
The county also plans to move some of the raw water in the reservoir at the Crosstown plant back to Lake McIntosh, but the EPD is requiring that the lake “remain isolated from human contact” and the water must be sampled for any pollutants.
EPD is also urging the county to monitor its finished water for manganese and “continue to monitor taste and odor throughout the plant and distribution system to ensure that the pre-chlorine feed does not exacerbate lingering taste and odor incidents throughout the plant and distribution system.”
The water system last removed solids from the lagoons in question back in 1999 and it cost $200,000 then, County Administrator Steve Rapson told the Fayette County Commission last week.