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Here’s what may cost Flowery Branch $24 million over five years
City looking at expanding, upgrading sewer system
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Flowery Branch is looking to expand its sewer plant, possibly taking initial steps in this year. The expansion will help brace for growth, expected as more residents and businesses pour in over the next few years. - photo by Scott Rogers

With growth bearing down on Flowery Branch over the next few years, the South Hall city is embarking on a 5-year, $24 million plan to make sure adequate water and sewer is in place.

The City Council took initial steps Dec. 20 by starting the engineering for a new 250,000-gallon water tank, replacing an existing 60,000-gallon tank on Gainesville Street, and in raising the elevation of the city’s existing 150,000-gallon tank on Roberts Drive.

But more projects lie ahead, including a new sewer plant.

In fact, the timeline has been hurried up, according to an Oct. 11 report from Athens-based consulting firm Nelsnick Enterprises.

Nelsnick notes that in November 2017, a Flowery Branch capital improvement and rate increase plan called for building a new plant in 6-7 years of the plan’s implementation.

“However, it became apparent in spring of 2018 that various proposed new developments would place an earlier and more significant stress on the existing wastewater treatment plant,” the report says.

Hundreds of homes were under construction or approved in the city in 2018. In December, the City Council approved a 324-unit apartment complex off Phil Niekro Boulevard at Thurmon Tanner Parkway, just west of Interstate 985.

The new plant is now projected for construction in 2020-21, with upgrades to the existing plant in 2022-23. Once the projects are completed, the city would have a total treatment capacity of 1.7 million gallons per day.

The current plant was permitted at 1 million gallons per day, but the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has told the city that capacity would be reduced to 700,000 gallons “to meet the proposed higher treatment requirements,” Nelsnick’s report says.

Most of the city’s needs lie in sewer infrastructure, with the Nelsnick report estimating costs at $20.5 million. Water needs total $3.5 million.

“I know there are some large numbers in that document, but we shouldn’t be too concerned,” City Manager Bill Andrew told City Council on Dec. 20. “We’re going to have growth … to pay for quite a bit of this.”

Among the water needs is storage tank upgrades, estimated to cost $900,000.

“We’re going to be balancing the (water) pressure between these two tanks,” City Manager Bill Andrew said of the project.

The cost for the engineering work is $51,500. The work will involve “digging into the ground (and) testing the soils to make sure the foundations are built properly,” Andrew said.

Flowery Branch is raising water and sewer rates 5 percent this year to help bolster its capital improvement plan.

The city is experiencing and anticipating significant growth,” states a letter to customers announcing the hike. “Accommodating this growth creates an opportunity for the city to improve our service to all customers.”

The letter goes on to say the city is planning water tank improvements, water and sewer line improvements and a sewer plant expansion.

“These enhancements will ensure continued service now and into the future,” it says.

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