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Utility working on Hoschton wastewater facility
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JEFFERSON — The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority is still fixing problems at Hoschton’s wastewater treatment plant almost two months after it began operating the facility under a mutual aid agreement.

During the authority’s Feb. 11 meeting, Eric Klerk, the authority’s manager, delivered an update on the plant’s progress.

“We had hoped we would be a little further down the road in terms of seeing the plant operate,” he told the authority’s board of directors.

The most recent problem involves replacing the plant’s return activated sludge pumps, which help control the return activated sludge rate, a “critical component” of the plant, according to Mark Dudziak, the authority’s wastewater operations manager and safety coordinator.

Klerk told the authority’s board of directors that the pumps had been “completely destroyed.”

To replace the pumps, which are about 3 years old, it could cost Hoschton between $8,000 and $10,000, according to Dudziak. Hoschton officials originally allocated $5,000 to make repairs at the plant, he said.

However, Dudziak still was waiting to receive a final price estimate.

Meanwhile, Hoschton and the authority still are negotiating a deal to have Jackson County permanently operate the city’s plant.

Klerk said he is in the process of drafting a contract, but estimated it will likely cost Hoschton $75,000 for the authority to operate its water and sewer system annually.

Another draft will be presented at the authority’s March meeting, he said.

When Hoschton approved its 2010 amended budget in January, city officials included cost estimates for Jackson County to operate its plant full time and supply all of its water.

These estimates included $108,000 to purchase water and $70,000 for the county to operate the plant for a nine-month period.

Hoschton and the water authority first entered into an emergency mutual aid agreement on Dec. 21 after Hoschton officials discovered findings of “operator neglect” at the city’s plant, Hoschton Mayor Erma Denney said in December.

Johnny Hill, the plant’s former operator, was suspended without pay on Dec. 21 and submitted his letter of resignation two days later.

While the authority initially decided to help run the plant for 30 days, its board of directors agreed last month to extend that aid until March 15.

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