By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
How Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility has prepared for heavy rains after sewage spill
10292020 WATER 1.jpg
An equalization basin at the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Repairs are done at the facility after pump failures from heavy rains caused a sewage spill the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11 where records from the facility show that almost 5 inches of rain fell there between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. - photo by Scott Rogers

After Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility was inundated with water during the heavy rains of Oct. 10 and 11, leading to a 2-million-gallon sewage spill, all the pumps at the facility have been repaired or replaced ahead of heavy rains expected late Oct. 28 and early Oct. 29. 

Each pump at the facility is able to pump 6 million gallons a day, and with eight pumps, the facility could handle 48 million gallons a day. But Plant Manager Scott Baum said the facility usually averages 9 to 9.5 million gallons a day, far below capacity.  

The heavy rains of Oct. 10 and 11 still overwhelmed the equipment though. While Gainesville Water Resources does not know how much water entered the facility at that time, it was more than 48 million gallons. Baum said that weekend was a “100-year rain event.” 

Water rushed into the intake station at the pump facility, even covering the lights at the top of the area, which on Oct. 28 still had some debris from the storms. And inside the building, the pumps were flooded with more than 10 feet of water, with water rising to the top of the area housing the pumps and a water line still visible Oct. 28. 

The facility has eight pumps, two of which were replaced, while the others were repaired. Don Dye, assistant director of Gainesville Water Resources, said the repairs and replacements cost about $11,000.  

Dye said he expected no issues with Hurricane Zeta, which is expected to bring 1 to 3 inches of rain to Hall. That is more of a “typical rain event,” Dye said. Records from the Flat Creek facility show that almost 5 inches of rain fell there between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Oct. 10 and 11, the weekend of the spill. 

10292020 WATER 8.jpg
Emergency pumps are on standby Wednesday, Oct. 28, 220, at the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility after pump failures from heavy rains caused a sewage spill the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11. Repairs are done at the facility in time for the strong winds and heavy rain expected from Hurricane Zeta. - photo by Scott Rogers


The facility, which is located on Old Flowery Branch Road, is one of two water reclamation facilities operated by Gainesville Water Resources. Rather than treating drinking water, which the water department does at two other facilities, the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility takes in wastewater, treats and cleans it and returns it to waterways to save water. 

The 2-million-gallon spill has been reported to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. An EPD spokesman said Oct. 28 that the division was investigating the spill and had not yet taken enforcement action such as a fine.  

Regional events