FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With water being such an important resource in this county, the expansion of the Forsyth County Water Plant offers a future as crystal clear as the water.
The new expansion was designed with the capability to treat an additional 12 million gallons per day and enhance the quality of finished water with increased efficiency.
“This is our water supply for the future,” said Barry Lucas, deputy director of water and sewage for Forsyth County at the May 23 open house. “It gives us the ability to meet our water demands for the next several years. In addition to that, it is built so that the next expansion will be a lot easier and quicker. We are definitely set up for growth here.”
The Forsyth County Water Plant, 2255 Antioch Road in Cumming, was first opened in 2000. When the expansion project was first designed, the economy was booming, Lucas said. The recession had hit by the time the plan was brought to the board in March 2009 with an estimated price tag of $20 million.
“I don’t think it was an easy decision for the board to make,” Lucas said. “But today, the plant is up and running, and along with the old plant, it is providing the water that we use today.”
Chris Carr of CH2M Hill, one of the lead contractors for the project, said the new plant uses ultrafiltration membranes to remove the solids from the water.
All of the water at the plant comes from Lake Lanier, and it is treated and clarified. Then the water goes through the membranes’ .02 micron filter, which is the straining mechanism.
The facility is built for 24 million gallons of water per day in the future, but right now it is cleaning 12 million gallons per day, Carr said.
“So this allows the county several things. One is a cost effective approach to expansion; also it allows the expansion to be quicker,” Carr said. “From a future standpoint, the county is in a good position to meet future needs.”
Another benefit of the new expansion is increased efficiency in terms of water loss, Lucas said. The old plant lost about 9 percent of the water it cleaned.
“Every plant loses a certain amount. Today, with the new backwash recycling facility that we have, we are down to losing only about 4 percent,” Lucas said. “Water is so important here that we have to take advantage of every drop we have. We save about 600,000 gallons a day of water that we have today that we didn’t have before.”
This saves about $100,000 a year by being more efficient with their water. The plant will also save money because they will treat all of their own water instead of buying finished water.
Tim Perkins, director of water and sewage for Forsyth County, said that since he started as director in 1996 the board has always backed water initiatives.
“Projects like this demonstrate the commitment and show the nature of Forsyth County when it comes to infrastructure serving our citizens,” Perkins said. “We have always been fortunate.”
Perkins said he was very pleased with the outcome of the project as a team effort, and he awarded MVP of the project to Johnnie Ornelas of Garney Construction.
“Most of all, he was a builder,” Perkins said. “He had a huge role in our team meetings and he had a way of calming things down when things were intense.”
Ornelas also had a helper with him throughout the process, Perkins said, Ornelas’ dog, Bailey. Bailey would be around when trucks were being unloaded and his approval was needed to be in the office, Perkins said.
Ornelas was presented a poster of Bailey in his construction vest that had been signed by members of the expansion team.