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Statesboro moves closer to a water reuse system

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  The City of Statesboro is one step closer to a water reuse system as it recently received its state-required permit.
      During staff reports at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, Water and Wastewater Assistant Director Van Collins reported the Georgia Environmental Protection Division granted the permit to the city, which will allow it to move forward with plans to install a system to use treated wastewater in irrigation systems.
      The city’s first customer will be Georgia Southern University, which will use processed water pumped to the ponds near the Recreation Activity Center to irrigate fields surrounding the RAC. Initial estimates show GSU using between 350,000 and 500,000 gallons of reclaimed water daily on those areas alone.
      GSU has also written a check to the city for $500,000, which will be used to pay for the system’s installation costs. The university will kick in another $250,000 if necessary, but Collins said he does not expect total construction costs to exceed $750,000.
      Water and Wastewater Director Wayne Johnson said the re-use system will be an important tool for future development because the volume of reclaimed water used locally directly increases the amount of fresh water the city and university draw from the aquifer. With the state expected to reduce the city and university’s withdrawal permits in the coming months, utilizing reclaimed water is important for both entities.
      “Every gallon (of reclaimed water) that we can get someone to use, it gives us one more gallon of potable water we can have for new and existing customers,” Johnson said when the city began looking into the project.
      The city currently uses ultra-violet lights to kill viruses and bacteria before the water is released back into the local environment. Though the water is nearly potable and perfectly suited for landscaping uses, the university will add a small amount of chlorine to kill any additional organisms that may be picked up in the pipes. The city will begin accepting construction bids for the project in the coming weeks.
       In other business, former mayor Bill Hatcher was approved in a 3-2 council vote to serve out his full term on the Board of Directors for the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia. Hatcher, currently serving as vice-chairman of the board, will serve of the remainder of his term, which ends in 2011.
      Councilman Travis Chance and Will Britt voted against the resolution to appoint Hatcher, with Councilman Gary Lewis, Tommy Blitch and John Riggs voting in favor. Britt said he cast a no vote because he believes a member of the current council should represent the city’s interests.

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