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Lula wastewater treatment plant to be done by Christmas
Lula Mayor Milton Turner looks down at a basin that will capture different elements at the new Lula Waste Water Treatment Facility Thursday. The capacity of this basin is 1 million gallons of water. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

LULA — The wastewater treatment plant under construction in Lula is about halfway done, and officials say it will be up and running by Christmas.

The plant will be a top notch, environmentally friendly facility, which has been funded in part by a $6 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This plant is about as high a technology as you can purchase right now,” said Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin. “It is state of the art.”

The bulk of construction is complete and crews will now concentrate on installing equipment.

Driving down the newly built Magnolia Station Road, it is hard to tell that a wastewater treatment plant will be at the end of the road.

At the top of an open field with a slight incline, the different pieces of the plant are visible.

The gray blocks that make up the buildings on the site may not be much to look at, but Bergin said they were selected with durability in mind. Bergin said the plan was to keep it simple so operational costs would remain low for years to come.

“The idea is you can wash everything down through the years,” Bergin said.

Bergin said wastewater will be pumped into holding tanks, where a majority of the solid waste will be removed. Each of the three holding tanks has a capacity of 1 million gallons. The subsequent steps of the treatment process take the water gradually down the hill.

“We’ve done this from an operational standpoint to be very efficient so we let gravity take over,” Bergin said. “It’s pumped from the head of the plant and falls down like stair steps.”

After the small debris is removed and the water is treated, the clean water moves down what looks like a large, concrete set of stairs to be oxidized. The water is eventually discharged into Hagen Creek. The city has a discharge permit of 385,000 gallons per day.

Bergin said the movement mimics the natural flow of a stream.

“This is a natural process,” Bergin said. “It’s very effective.”

The area around Lula is expected to grow rapidly in the near future, due in part to the creation of the additional sewer capacity.

Development is planned on the nearby Ga. 365 corridor and two large communities — Hagen Creek and Cane Creek — are slated to be built nearby.

The site is 27 acres total, though the footprint of the plant only uses 4 acres.

“We planned for the future when we built this plant,” said Mayor Milton Turner.

When needed, the city can replicate what has been built and expand its capacity over the remainder of the property.

“We hope we have enough capacity to sell,” Turner said.

Turner said he hopes to pay off the loans on the facility in two years.

“If the economy doesn’t come back that may not happen,” Turner said.

Bergin said the site of the plant is topographically perfect to harness gravity and treat wastewater.

“This is on an 8,000-acre service area,” he said. “Normally, an 8,000-acre drainage basin is unheard of. It usually requires a lot more pump stations.”