Photo by Michael Buckelew
COVINGTON -- The next time you drink a crystal clear glass of Newton County water, remember there are many folks at Cornish Creek Water Treatment Facility making sure that happens for you.
On Tuesday morning, employees at the facility were joined by county dignitaries to formally dedicate a new building and upgrade to the facility, expanding clarification and filtration capabilities.
The expansion was already up and running smoothly, making it possible to produce 25 million gallons of potable drinking water for the residents of Newton and Walton counties.
"We've tried very hard to be a first-class facility, the best in the state," water production manager Jason Nord said. "We want to be the pride of Newton County."
Nord said groundbreaking for the new facility took place three years ago and the two-year process of construction oversight and design was handled by Infratec Consultants of Atlanta. The tech design and upgrade were performed by Industrial Control Systems of Sandston, Va.
"This expansion is the third phase of a four-phase build out to a maximum production yield of 25 million gallons a day," Nord said. "State-of-the-art control, monitoring and treatment technologies utilized in the facility upgrade will deliver an uninterrupted flow of safe, high-quality drinking water to the consumer."
He said with weather as warm as it is, the facility is called upon to produce 60 to 70 percent of its capacity.
Although the new building and accompanying technology are impressive, Nord said most of the work was actually done underground.
"If you could see a 3-D X-ray of this place, it looks like spaghetti under there," he said.
One of the technological components that was upgraded throughout the entire facility was to implement a lightning protection plan to prevent damage to pipes by replacing the old piping system with a fiber optic network of underground pipes. Nord said lightning strikes at the facility were not uncommon.
Newton County Water Resources had an unexpected occasion to show off its facility recently as well.
Nord said during the facility's recent sanitary survey conducted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, two representatives from the Atlanta office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accompanied the state inspectors.
"They wanted to showcase the state's sanitary survey process and wanted them (the U.S. representatives) to oversee them performing the survey on a water system," Nord said.
"They spent about two weeks with us going over the entire system. They really were impressed with our system ... and sent a letter basically giving us a very good report on our plant and how it is handled and run," Nord said. "It was a very good way for Newton County to show off that we do things right."
The letter praised the management for its immediate response to correcting any problems and was especially complimentary of two of the facility's assistant managers, James Brown and Bobby Snipes.
".... Mr. Brown showed an exceptional 'hands on' approach and was able to assist the staff on issues that were brought up during the inspection without any disruptions. Mr. Snipes is the Quality Assurance manager for the Covington employees and his attention to detail was seen in his thoroughness of records management," the letter states.
The letter to Nord, signed by Pamela Riley, state program manager for the EPA, goes on to say, "The citizens of Newton County can rest assured that they are receiving quality drinking water and have the best staff to handle all of their drinking water needs, especially since you and your staff drink the water yourselves before releasing it to the distribution systems."