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Wastewater Treatment Plant
Wastewater Treatment Plant

Water and wastewater has been a concern with growth. Southeast Georgia never expected to grow so fast. Richmond Hill is an example of a city with a growing population and a need for additional infrastructure; therefore, a wastewater treatment program was inevitable. In 1995, Richmond Hill prepared for expansion by planning for the construction of the Sterling Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The facility was intended to provide wastewater services within the city and outside the city limits of Richmond Hill. Richmond Hill chose to replace and upgrade the old mechanical wastewater treatment facility with a more modern approach, a constructed wetlands wastewater treatment facility, which is a low cost and simple alternative. In 1996 Richmond Hill invested six-million dollars over twenty years in a state of the art wastewater treatment facility. Richmond Hill successfully established a regional wastewater treatment program that brought nature back into the treatment process. This overland-based process enables the city to maintain its natural coastal beauty while providing for the expansion capabilities for the city of Richmond Hill.

Because clean water is essential, the city carefully selected this program. Experts report constructing wetlands for the municipal wastewater treatment facility can be built for 90% less than conventional sewage plants and can operate at 95% less cost than mechanical plants. Constructed wetlands are manmade sewage lagoons that imitate natural wetlands by filtering sewage with native plants, microorganisms and other natural processes. Constructed wetlands are a creative alternative to the traditional sewage treatment plant.

Wastewater treatment plants are crucial for a community like Richmond Hill. The treatment facility removes harmful pollutants from liquid waste so that it can return to the environment safely. Nature has an amazing ability to cope with wastewater and pollution, but it would be overwhelmed if we didn't treat the millions of gallons of wastewater and sewage produced every day before releasing it back to the environment. Treatment plants reduce pollutants in wastewater to a level nature can handle. Additionally, the all natural facility attracts a variety of wildlife and is popular site for avid bird watchers and wildlife viewing. This 500-acre facility has been designated a wildlife sanctuary by the city council.

Richmond Hill’s wastewater treatment facility serves more than nine thousand residents and collects sewage over an area of 10 square miles. The wetlands process an average of 1 million gallons per day, with capacity to treat 1.5 million gallons per day. All this falls under the guidance of Enviroworx Operations Management, which is contracted by the city to handle all the public works for Richmond Hill. Richmond Hill chose a private firm to provide operation and management services on a contract basis.

Richmond Hill’s innovative approach to wastewater has been very successful. In choosing a progressive treatment facility and well qualified agency to handle the city’s public works, the government is able to focus their attention on other services in the community.

Richmond Hill’s innovative approach to wastewater treatment has been beneficial in a variety of ways. The constructed wetlands program is excellent because it is low in cost and in maintenance requirements, offers good performance, and provides a natural appearance. The constructed wetlands are well suited in small communities like Richmond Hill. 

  • Construction and maintenance were cheaper than the traditional sewage plant. 
  • Lower operational and maintenance costs. 
  • The wetlands processes an average of 1 million gallons per day 
  • Capacity to treat 1.5 million gallons per day 
  • Serves more than nine thousand residents 
  • Collects sewage over an area of 10 square miles 
  • Non-technical personnel can operate and maintain. 
  • Less energy is required to operate. 
  • Controls flooding by absorbing floodwater. 
  • More flexibility and less susceptibility to shock loading. 
  • Greater reliability than a traditional wastewater treatment facility. 
  • Effectively removes bacteria and nutrients from water. 
  • Protects the coastline by serving as a pollution buffer between land and water. 
  • More aesthetic than the traditional sewage plant. 
  • Attracts wildlife such as exotic and water birds, butterflies, dragonflies, turtles, deer, etc. 
  • It has become a habitat for wildlife. Officially designated by city council as a wildlife sanctuary. 
  • More environmentally friendly than the traditional sewage plant. 
  • It has created educational opportunities for schools, research projects for universities and an example to other municipalities interested in creating constructed wetlands facility.

As a small coastal community it is important to retain natural beauty. Most wastewater treatment facilities can be an eyesore on otherwise beautiful coastline, Richmond Hill is fortunate maintain the 500-acre facility as treatment facility as well as a wildlife sanctuary. Richmond Hill believes it is a matter of caring for the environment