WARNER ROBINS -- A gaping, 35-foot-deep hole indicates a major project underway at the Sandy Run Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Marianne Golmitz, utilities engineer, on Wednesday showed off the site, the first stage in a $27.5 million expansion that expands the plants capacity and will mean cleaner water entering Sandy Run Creek. Its been a difficult first six months, but Golmitz said shes pleased with the progress.
Weve struggled with the rain, but theyve been wonderful, she said of engineering firm Haskell.
The entire project is set to take about three years to complete.
The first phase should be complete in about six months, said Jim Mixon, assistant manager for ESG Operations Inc., the company that manages Warner Robins wastewater.
The initial phase includes putting two new 20-foot deep basins, 120 feet in diameter, at the back of the plant for what will be the second-to-final stage in the treatment process. Since only about three feet of the basins will remain above ground, a large hole has been dug.
Construction crews are installing 54-inch pipes and building foundations for the two round concrete basins that will be placed in the hole.
The hardest part about this is we have to remain in compliance with our permits while all this is going on, Golmitz said.
The heavy rains the past few months halted excavation a few times, Golmitz said. The rains also have forced one of two current clarifiers back into operation. The large basins, open at the top, are where micro-organisms that are used to clean the water in a previous phase are removed.
When the two new clarifiers are complete, they will replace the four current square clarifiers. For now, the plant is operating on three of them.
Project managers also had to contend with higher-than-expected groundwater. Since construction crews dug below the water table, they installed temporary wells to keep the water out of the hole. But they soon realized three bigger ones were needed.
Golmitz and Mixon said the project seems to be on track now, and crews are working on weekends to make up for lost time.
The predicted busy hurricane season shouldnt affect the project, Golmitz said.
For now, oversized pipes and equipment litter the plant, and dump trucks continue to crawl up an ever-growing mound of dirt. Golmitz estimated its about 30 feet high.
Weve been trying to give (the dirt) away to anyone who needs it, Golmitz said.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.