Partnership With Anderson County To Construct A Joint County Sewer Plant In Southern Oconee County—About one year ago Anderson County first reached out to Oconee County proposing a partnership between the two counties. The proposal was to provide sewer to I-85 exits 1-11 in Oconee and Anderson Counties through the construction of a joint county waste treatment plant.
Industrial development along the I-85 corridor is vital for the future sustainability of our county as we must diversify our tax base. Currently, one industry pays ~1/3 of the country’s taxes.
As you may be aware, the Sewer South Phase 2 expansion is planned to expand sewer lines to I-85 Exits 1, and 2. This expansion will require forced mains and pumps to move the sewage to the pumping station at the Golden Corner Commerce Park where it would then be pumped to the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant. A new sewer plant in the southern end of the county would allow for the sewage to gravity flow to the new waste treatment plant.
A major reason for an additional waste treatment facility in the county is that the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant is currently at its regulatory limit for heavy metal ions. So, if a new industry is interested in coming to Oconee County and their effluent has heavy metals in it, then they need not apply. This may hamstringing much of the future industrial development within the county. In addition to the regulatory limit, the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant capacity is already stressed during heavy rains due to infiltration. So, can the facility handle the additional load from a developed I-85 corridor?
Some rough details on the potential agreement:
A new sewer plant would cost ~ $50 million. Anderson County would pay $29 million, Oconee would pay $21 million. There is also a $10 million grant available from ARPA money. The state has earmarked $490 million of ARPA money for sewer. Additional grants from the recently signed infrastructure bill will also become available in coming months.
District 5 Councilman Glenn Hart, District 2 Planning Commissioner David Nix, and myself met recently with Anderson County’s project manager Jon Caime to discuss this project. Prior to working in Anderson County, Mr. Caime was the administrator for Hart County GA and was instrumental in the development of the multimillion dollar industries along the I-85 corridor in Hart County.
We scheduled the meeting with Mr. Caime because Mr. Hart had received word through county administration that Anderson County may be getting cold feet on the deal, so we met with Anderson County to feel them out. Mr. Caime assured us that Anderson County was committed and was proceeding with or without Oconee County. The deadline to apply for a grant from the ARPA funding is September 12th, so a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) would need to be signed between Oconee and Anderson County prior to September 12th. Mr. Caime informed us in the meeting that he sent over an MOU in June to the Oconee County administration. Following the meeting Mr. Hart requested a copy of the MOU from the administration as council had not yet reviewed it. You can view the Anderson County’s proposed MOU HERE.
If our county does not act wisely, then southern Oconee County will become a bedroom community with subdivisions for people who work the good paying jobs in neighboring Hart and Anderson Counties. We must plan accordingly to provide sewer with the available treatment capacity to accommodate industry, or our county will be left behind. This issue is on the council agenda for August 16th. I will provide you with updates from that meeting.
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