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New Newton water reclamation facility named in honor of beloved former chief engineer
Arthur Scott Emmons Water Reclamation Facility
The Arthur Scott Emmons Water Reclamation Facility is one of five parts of Newton County's Water and Sewerage system to benefit from a $212.7 million grant provided to allow for major renovations. - photo by Taylor Beck

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Officials and community members gathered in Stanton Springs on Thursday, May 19, to celebrate the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority’s unveiling of the Arthur Scott Emmons Water Reclamation Facility.

The facility, located off Shire Parkway, was named for the NCWSA’s former, longtime chief engineer Scott Emmons who passed away in September 2017 of cancer. In an emotional ceremony, various authority officials spoke of Emmons’ vision, which was considered instrumental in the development of the facility.

“When this all started, it was a thought,” said Mike Hopkins, who is executive director of NCWSA. “It was a vision. Scott had parts of that vision. And I look out and see a lot of you who had the ability to come in, and here we [are] … It’s quite an honor.

“Scott passed away on a weekend,” Hopkins recalled. “But we were talking on [the Friday before]. The man was working up until the last moment. He gave his all and is a great inspiration.”

Members of Emmons’ family, including wife Debbie, was in attendance to receive the honor.

“Scott was a dreamer, but he was a go-getter,” Debbie Emmons said. “He didn’t just dream; he achieved. He made things happen. He got things done. I’ll sum it all up to say, Scott made the world a better place. He blessed your life, and he blessed mine.

“I must say, to name this facility in memory of Scott is an incredible honor,” she continued. “Your love and admiration for my husband is a blessing to me and our family. It is an honor we humbly receive. We will always treasure this honor.”

The new facility is expected to be a game changer, Hopkins said. 

“For those of you who have been around wastewater treatment facilities, or if you haven’t,” Hopkins said, “this is not an ordinary, typical water reclamation facility. This is something different. It was never meant to be just a wastewater plant. There was a lot of thought that went into this.”

As the new headquarters for the NCWSA’s wastewater operations, the plant is ready to pump out 1.25 million gallons of treated water per day. And one day, after phases of expansion are completed, that total could reach 3.75 million gallons per day.

Located in the eastern-most portion of Newton County, Arthur Scott Emmons Water Reclamation Facility sets on 17 acres. 

Around 2005, Hopkins said, the NCWSA was told the location on the Little River was the No. 1 site for a stream discharge plant in Newton County. The authority took note and has since bought about 445 acres within the area.

The facility’s construction first began in March 2020 and was completed in March 2022 — on time and under budget, officials said. Reeves Young was the lead contractor for the project.

“The project involved the retrofitting of an existing pump station to be a fully functional headworks for the plant that included two screens and dual holding tanks to pump flows to the new or existing plant,” the ceremony program stated. 

“A new Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) with associated digesters and post-equalization superstructure including associated aeration and treatment equipment was also installed. Considerations were also made for future expansion with the installation of a new disk filter and UV treatment system. 

"A processing building was also constructed in order to support the treatment of the plant, which included a chemical feed system, polymer treatment and belt press for sludge processing. A control building was also built for two main functions — to provide the necessary control system to allow for future expansion, and to provide a conference center that would allow for continued learning and community engagement.

"Installation of a complete Reuse System for a redundant water source was also installed that also provides recycled water to support the environmental campus.”

The facility will be tasked with treating wastewater from million-dollar industries located in and around Stanton Springs, including Takeda, Meta (formerly Facebook) and others.

In addition to a ribbon cutting, community members were also given a tour of the facility, followed by lunch.

NCWSA was first formed in 1970 through a piece of legislation proposed by Don Ballard. After starting with only 52 customers, the authority today serves more than 27,000 customers delivering more than 5 million gallons of water per day and currently treating about 2.8 million gallons of per day.

If laid end to end, Hopkins said, NCWSA’s water mains would reach from Covington to Miami, Florida.

The NCWSA is governed by an eight-member board of directors. The five commission districts representing Newton County appoint one member from each district. The cities of Covington, Oxford and Porterdale also appoint one member each. Each member serves a five-year term and can be reappointed in successive terms.

Sequential Batch Reactors
Pictured are Sequential Batch Reactors that help aerate and treat wastewater at the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority’s new Arthur Scott Emmons Water Reclamation Facility. - photo by Taylor Beck