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Utility employees may get additional sewer, water duties
Staff seeks approval to review detailed construction plans
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Gainesville's public utilities staff could take on new responsibilities in January when it comes to adding sewer and water extensions to the city's system.

At today's City Council work session, staff will ask council members to approve a resolution that allows them to review more complex and detailed construction plans than ever before.

"It puts a silver star next to our capabilities," said Myron Bennett, the permitting services manager for public utilities. "We have a staff capable of reviewing plans and making sure sites are engineered properly."

In January 1992, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division allowed Gainesville staff to review and approve systems with sewers less than 36 inches in diameter and pump stations with a capacity of 700 gallons per minute.

Under the new agreement, staff can review pump stations with a capacity up to 2,100 gallons.

"We requested the additional responsibilities, which was sparked when some of our certified professional engineers on staff felt they could review the plans correctly," he said. "If we don't have this ability, the plans go to the state, where someone isn't as familiar with the community and doesn't have the history that the local staff do."

The new agreement will give water and sewer projects a more local feel, and the city contacts should help plans move forward at a quicker pace, Bennett added.

Under the new agreement, public utilities officials will evaluate whether the water pollution control plant is capable of handling proposed sewer extensions and ensure that additions aren't constructed on solid waste landfills.

They will also certify that proposed sewers are designed by registered professionals according to national water quality and engineering manuals.

City staff will conduct inspections during the construction process to ensure the projects are following approved plans and specifications, including the Erosion and Sedimentation Act and EPD requirements.

The city's department must also maintain up-to-date sewer maps and keep its service strategies consistent with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which strives to reach different sectors in a community.

If approved by City Council members, the resolution will go to state EPD officials for final signatures before the new responsibilities begin.

"The Gwinnett and Fulton counties of the state probably have responsibilities similar to this, and I think it really shows the capabilities of the staff we have here in Gainesville," Bennett said.