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Stinky water may be gone, but county to evaluate processes

Although Fayette’s stinky drinking water issue has subsided, county officials are continuing to work with a consultant and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on potential changes to the water treatment process.

CH2M Hill, which has provided consultation services to the county about the problem, has been contracted to provide a $45,000 assessment of the proposed magnetic ion exchange (miex) project which is designed to remove smelly organic compounds from the raw water before it’s treated.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is starting a sanitary system review at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant this week, a routine process that occurs every three years and involves making sure the plant uses the correct procedures, standards and has the appropriate certifications, said County Administrator Steve Rapson.

The miex review will involve a live demonstration that will be evaluated by the contractor and also CH2M Hill at the same time to verify results, Rapson said.

“We wanted some independence, that’s why we’re doing that,” Rapson said.

The review will help the county determine whether to proceed with the $8 million miex project that has been on the drawing board for over a year, or whether it will go with a cheaper option, Rapson said.

After being misdiagnosed by county water officials at first, the weeks-long smelly water problem was finally attributed to organic compounds in raw water being imported from the Starr’s Mill Pond to the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant.

The resulting investigation determined that two lagoons holding water discharged from that plant that had been used in cleaning processes had sludge built up over a number of years which needed to be removed. That process necessitated the help of the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority, which connected a pipe to the water treatment plant to help drain the water from the lagoons to allow the sludge removal.

The resulting water from those lagoons was treated by WASA, where officials characterized the process as being similar to a heavy rain event that sends a high amount of water through the system.

The county’s consultant from CH2M Hill has recommended three other reviews as well, including an assessment of both the Crosstown and South Fayette water treatment plants as well as their proposed capital improvement projects.

Initially, CH2M Hill had recommended draining water from the Crosstown plant into the new Lake McIntosh reservoir. In a June 13 email, however, CH2M Hill’s Stuart B. Jeffcoat notified EPD that was no longer the case, as the raw water was blended in with new raw water from Lake Peachtree “without any taste and odor excursions.”

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