ROSWELL, Ga. — As part of a $300 million upgrade, the Big Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Roswell has been approved for a state-of-the-art filtration system.

The Fulton County commission approved a $21.2 million bid Oct. 7 for the membrane system that will handle filtration in the revamped facility.

The sewer plant is one of three wastewater treatment facilities in North Fulton and services an area covering 70 square miles, including Roswell and Alpharetta as well as portions of Milton, Johns Creek and Forsyth County.

Fulton County is partnering with Archer Western Construction and Brown and Caldwell to carry out the design-build joint project, which is the largest capital improvement effort in the county’s history.

Brown and Caldwell announced July 29 that construction for the landmark project is underway. The announcement came about three weeks after Fulton County commissioners approved a $274.8 million cap for the expansion. That vote did not include the cost for the new membrane system, which commissioners voted on last week.

Fulton selected Kubota Membrane USA, a Washington company, to build and design a membrane bioreactor system, then train staff how to use it. The system parses organics and solid waste out of reclaimed water. Without it, the expansion effort at Big Creek can’t move forward.

County officials said it would be cheaper to purchase the new membrane system directly from Kubota rather than buy it through the contractors.

According to county records, Kubota has been working with Archer Wester and Brown and Caldwell since February to integrate its membrane design into the grander construction scheme for the facility.

Kubota was one of four finalists that bid on the project. The company proposed fiber plate membranes built upon membrane bioreactor technology, a system considered one of the most advanced in wastewater treatment. The project website says the system combines biological treatment and nutrient removal with ultrafiltration membranes that sift out particles greater than 0.04 microns, about one millionth of an inch, in diameter.

Fulton County commissioners unanimously approved the 54-month contract with Kubota without discussion during the Oct. 7 session.

The Big Creek Reclamation Facility was originally built in 1969 with a capacity to treat 750,000 gallons per day. An expansion in 1991 increased the facility’s capacity to 24 million gallons per day, or 24 MGD.

County officials expected Big Creek to reach its treatment capacity this year. And according to a forecast from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, the facility needs to expand its operation to continue to meet the demand for an anticipated uptick in population.

The current overhaul will elevate Big Creek’s capacity to 32 MGD by 2024 and includes new noise and odor control systems. It is also poised to replace aging infrastructure to increase the system’s efficiency.

At a July 8 Fulton County Commission meeting, Public Works Director David Clark estimated that that the upgrades would carry the facility through 2050 with the highest of environmental standards.

“This project’s going to allow us to not only treat the additional wastewater demand that is being generated by Roswell, Alpharetta, Milton and portion of Johns Creek,” Clark said, “but it also will allow us to meet and exceed all environmental permit requirements placed on the wastewater effluent as it is returned to the Chattahoochee River.”

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