COVINGTON - A $12.1 million expansion to the Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant is under way.
A groundbreaking was held Thursday afternoon at the plant, located at 11905 Alcovy Road.
The expansion will increase the plant's peak capacity from 15 million gallons per day (mgd) to 25 mgd.
With the available capacity of 4.5 mgd at the Williams Street Plant in the city of Covington, the total peak capacity of the Newton County Water System will be 29.5 mgd upon completion of the Cornish Creek expansion, said Water Resources Director Karl Kelley.
Peak water demand in 2006 exceeded 90 percent of existing system capacity, Kelley said, but last year's watering restrictions eased demand somewhat. At current growth rates, the expansion at Cornish Creek is expected to meet the county's drinking water needs through at least 2015, he said.
"We're very pleased this project is coming out of the ground," said Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner.
"As we continue forward, we will need adequate water supply ... That should hold us for a few years," he added.
The expansion will include additional raw water pumps in a new raw water pump building; a new raw water mixing basin; additional clarifiers and filters; new finished water storage and a new finished water pump building and pumps.
Choate Construction Company out of Atlanta was the low bidder for the project, at $12,144,000. The project will be funded through water revenue bonds issued in 2004.
Walton County will reimburse Newton County for 25 percent of the total project cost. Walton has a 25 percent ownership in Lake Varner and in the existing plant.
Infratec Consultants Inc. of Sandy Springs designed the project and will oversee construction for the county.
Construction will take approximately 18 months, Kelley said.
Cornish Creek began producing water in October 1992 with an original capacity of 4.5 mgd. The plant has been expanded twice since it was constructed, first to 7.5 mgd in 1998, then to its current capacity of 15 mgd in 2001.
A future expansion will bring Cornish Creek to its peak capacity of 35 mgd.
The county's withdrawal permit for Lake Varner was increased to 35 mgd in 2004, following installation of a new pump on the Alcovy River.
Although the withdrawal permit and the peak plant capacity will ultimately be 35 mgd, the year-round average daily production will be limited to 28 mgd, Kelley said.
The Cornish Creek and Williams Street plants manufacture wholesale water for sale to nine utilities which then resell the water to their retail customers.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at email@example.com.