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Fayette negotiates lesser penalties for water system failures

State environmental regulators have downgraded six of the 10 drinking water rule violations Fayette County was slapped with early this summer, county officials have said.

In the meantime, the county is also having its entire water system staff retrained on their various duties in upcoming weeks in an effort to instill public confidence in the system, said County Administrator Steve Rapson.

The rule violations and a laundry list of deficiencies were discovered during a June review of the county’s water system that ultimately led to a huge demotion for former water system director Tony Parrott, who was busted down to a water treatment plant operator.

Parrott ultimately admitted that he guessed at the cause of foul smelling and tasting water that was delivered to homes and businesses all over the county over a period of several weeks in late May and early June.

The stinky water was later blamed on operations at the Crosstown water treatment plant, specifically the continued use of recycled water from two holding ponds which contained backwash water from the filter cleaning process. To rectify part of the problem, the county hired a contractor to remove sludge from those ponds, a process that had not been undertaken in a number of years.

On the heels of that episode, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division cited the county for violating 10 state water quality rules and recommended that Parrott and four other top water system officials be investigated as to whether they “may have practiced fraud or deception,” or instead are “incompetent or unable to perform their duties properly.”

Among the rule violations were water treatment operations being conducted by uncertified personnel and also a lack of record-keeping and continuous monitoring of water produced at both of the county’s water treatment plants. Among the deficiencies were a host of equipment problems at the plants, with the higher concentration being at the Crosstown water treatment plant in Peachtree City.

Rapson lauded water system employees for making progress on correcting the deficiencies listed by EPD.

“Our Fayette water system personnel have done an outstanding job pulling together and removing 55.3 percent of the deficiencies citied by the EPD over this past month,” Rapson said in a news release.

The county is developing a plan to address the remaining four rule violations and officials noted that EPD has helped the county “in achieving its goal of becoming a top-rated water system.”

The Fayette County Commission last month selected a new engineering firm to provide services to the water system, choosing CH2M Hill, the same firm that has provided specific guidance to resolve the smelly water issue and a problem weeks later with high manganese levels that were registered at both of the county’s water treatment plants.

CH2M Hill “has “brought considerable technical expertise in the area of design, design-build, operations and program management for water services operations,” county officials said.

CH2M Hill will be charged with getting the water system back up to snuff in the eyes of state regulators and also analyzing a proposal to spend $9 million on a magnetic ion exchange (MiEx) addition to the county’s water treatment plants to meet more stringent federal drinking water quality rules.

Contrary to previous published reports, County Administrator Rapson has never worked for CH2M Hill, Rapson said last week. He did work with CH2M Hill officials when he worked for the new city of Sandy Springs a number of years ago, but Rapson said he was employed and paid by the city, not by CH2M Hill.



Appreciate the hard work of the water dept.

Mr. Munford, can you look into finding out what items make up the 53.3% completed and what items are still open.

SPQR's picture

Why not find out who hired/promoted Tony Parrot and why there was no oversight in place. I'm sure a lot of folks would like to know how we got into this mess. I mean really, you have to pass a state board to give someone a haircut but just have a political in to run the water dept. Besides the infrastructure the management process must be fixed or this whole mess could easily be repeated.

Cyclist's picture

director was just "guessing" at what caused the diminished water quality earlier this year. Good gawd!!!

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

On the BOC agenda this week, approval is requested to add ladders to the insides of the tanks of 2 water towers. The notes state that when these were erected, no ladder was installed in either 2 million gallon tank on Ellis Rd and Hwy 92.

To quote the contractor, "At this time, the only access port into the tank is a pressure sealed man way located on the floor of the tank that remains under hundreds to thousands of gallons of water and silt. It is an unsafe situation to try and work off of ladders and pry this man way open. The force of the water could injure our employees or potentially damage the electrical equipment located at the base of the tanks interior dry area. We cannot put our employees, company, or your property at risk with this unsafe method. We require safe access be provided by the owner to enter into the tank(s). This is a very unusual situation as 99.9% of elevated water tanks have safe access into the interior wet portion of tanks."

Further stated, "This will allow for safe access and in the event an emergency rescue is ever needed, safe access will be available for all."

Further proof of what has already been proven of the complete failure of management over this water system. I would like to ask the following:

When were these 2 towers erected and who gave approval for the design which did not include the ladders?

Who has been doing the mandatory inspecting, cleaning and disinfecting of the interior of these 2 towers, to maintain compliance with the American Water Works Association Standards C652 for disinfection? How would they be able to accomplish this without the ladders? How did Water Dept. management verify the work had been completed as mandated without the ladders?

All of this has necessitated that a 2 million gallon water tank has been required to sit drained of water for over 11 days now. How has this impacted the delivery of clean water to our county?

This item needs approval by the BOC and the results of the washout and inspection crew need to be posted publicly upon completion. Thank you to Mr. Rapson and Ted Burgess for bringing this forward to be addressed.

We can expect to see a lot more if this in the next few years as .... like this is uncovered.

All the while we pay the .... as our water operator.

Don Haddix's picture

Since lowering Lake Peachtree was on the Council Agenda under Consent Agenda, word from the County is they will not do so until they have a engineer in place to research the request.

In other words, I doubt before January at the earliest.

PTC Staff finds no reason to be concerned over the lowering for maintenance by the Lake HOA. Just do not automatically believe when it happens it s necessarily connected to the dredging, for which no RFP has yet to be issues.

<strong><em>Peachtree City Mayor</em></strong>
The Comprehensive Strategic Plan Proposal
Is in the Updates Forum

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

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