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County landfill gets new water treatment system
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A new water treatment system at the Hall County Landfill is set to begin operating this week, saving the county an estimated $44,000 a month.

Roughly a year ago, the facility’s leachate system, which purifies water that has been contaminated by coming into contact with garbage, broke.

“It was almost 20 years old,” said county Director of Public Works and Utilities Ken Rearden. “It had outlived its useful life, and the parts were not available anymore.”

Landfill leachate water contains dangerous chemicals and must be collected and treated to prevent it from contaminating groundwater sources or surface water. Without the on-site leachate system, the landfill was forced to haul the water to a Banks County facility that could adequately treat it.

Due to the unusually wet summer, as many as three trucks a day were hauling water to Banks County, which cost the county an average of $44,000 a month over a nine-month period.

“We’ll still have to pay the power bill, but all of (the cost of transportation) will now be mitigated,” Rearden said.

The total cost of the new system was $1.2 million, which was provided entirely by a Georgia Fund loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, which assists programs that conserve and improve the state’s energy, land and water resources. The county will pay 1.2 percent interest on the 10-year loan.

There are several advantages the new system has over the old one. It is able to process 20,000 gallons of leachate water a day, which is about 8,000 more gallons than the old system.

“It has all of the new technology, it can handle our current demands and growth for many years to come,” Rearden said.

In addition, the system is housed in only one shipping container, whereas the old one occupied three, which reduces its footprint and frees space for the landfill to accept more trash.

After it is collected, the leachate water is stored in two large holding tanks before it is processed. Then the decontaminated water is used to control dust that is produced by trucks driving through the landfill, which is required to maintain the facility’s permit compliance.

The German company that manufactured the system emblazoned it with the name “Julia” in honor of Georgia-born actress Julia Roberts. Underneath the moniker, a German phrase was written.

“We had someone translate it for us,” Rearden said in a news release. “We learned that it says something about Gainesville being a place where it’s illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork.”

The statement is a nod to a city ordinance that prohibits eating chicken with anything but your fingers. The ordinance was adopted in 1961 to promote the city as the poultry capital of the world.

County personnel are working out a few computer glitches in the system, Rearden said, but it is expected to go online early this week.

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