COVINGTON -- The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority will construct a wastewater treatment plant on property it owns at Stanton Springs to serve Baxter International, but until that's completed, wastewater will be pumped to the city of Covington's treatment facility nearly 9 miles away at the intersection of Ga. Highway 36 and Covington ByPass.
The Little River wastewater treatment plant will begin construction in 2016 and will come online in 2018. The plant, which will be located on 115 acres at the southernmost point of Stanton Springs, has been in the planning stages for four years and will serve not only Baxter but the entire Stanton Springs development and eastern Newton County. The Authority has already expended about $3 million on the project, which will cost a total of approximately $19 million, according to WASA Executive Director Mike Hopkins. The treatment standards that will be in place are a reason the plant is so expensive, said Hopkins.
Baxter, a pharmaceutical company, will pretreat water on site before it is transported to WASA's treatment plant. Hopkins said the water will undergo several stages of treatment and have to meet stringent local and state guidelines. Once treated, the water will be released into the Little River, he said.
"Honestly, you could almost drink this water before it's returned to the Little River," he said. "It will be better quality than currently exists in the river."
Baxter will need wastewater treatment prior to the plant coming online, however, and the temporary solution is to build a force main and pump station and pump the wastewater to the city of Covington's ByPass Road facility, where it will be treated and sprayed onto the fields at the Land Application Facility, the same as all other treated wastewater. The cost of the force main and pump station will be between $8 million and $14 million, according to Hopkins. That will be funded by a combination of loans and grants to the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties.
In the inducement agreement between the JDA and Baxter, the JDA agrees to provide the company with $7.9 million in grants and loans from various agencies to construct the on-site pretreatment facility.
Hopkins said the Authority has not agreed to waive water and sewer tap fees for Baxter. The Economic Development Agreement between Baxter and the State of Georgia states that WASA is expected to waive fees, but if not, the JDA would absorb those costs, expected to total more than $600,000.
Baxter will eventually need up to 1 million gallons of water per day, which will be pumped from Lake Varner. The lake, the county's drinking water reservoir, has more than enough supply, Hopkins said. Baxter will have a redundant water supply loop system in Stanton Springs requiring connecting to an existing 12 inch diameter water main on Stanton Springs Parkway and on U.S. Highway 278.
The Economic Development Agreement between Baxter and the state of Georgia also reveals that the state will waive out-of-state tuition fees for Baxter employees and immediate family members relocating to Georgia. The waiver would reduce tuition costs at state universities by approximately half of the cost normally paid by out-of-state students. The students would also be eligible to apply for the HOPE grant and scholarship if all academic eligibility requirements are met.