COVINGTON, Ga. — County and water system officials broke ground Tuesday, Dec. 15, on millions of dollars worth of upgrades to its main water treatment plant in north Newton County.
Completion is expected in 2023 on $23 million in improvements to allow the Cornish Creek facility at Lake Varner to produce up to 25 million gallons of treated water “on a continuous basis,” county Water Resources director James Brown said.
The plant currently treats an average of 13.5 million gallons.
It will also be designed to allow expansion to produce 35 million gallons a day, according to engineering documents.
County Manager Lloyd Kerr said during the Tuesday ceremony on the shores of Lake Varner the project is needed to accommodate the anticipated population growth in Newton County.
Expansion also helps the county’s economic development efforts because it shows new and existing industrial employers — like Takeda Pharmaceuticals — that the county can meet their water needs, Kerr said.
“One of the key questions that is being asked is the availability of water,” he said.
Brown said the plant’s wholesale water customers worked to develop a strategic plan that led to the plant expansion project and “benefit the citizens of Newton County for the next 50 years.”
The project is set to include addition of a floating dock pump station for drawing up to 35 million gallons of raw water per day from Lake Varner.
A new 36-inch raw water line and a parallel finished water line are part of the project.
Three new high-service pumps for treated water; improvements to the bulk chemical storage area; a new backup power generator and improvements to the plant electrical system also are planned.
The county received a $25 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for the project. The loan is being repaid with money generated by current water rates, according to documents.
The Newton County Water System is a wholesale provider of water treated at its Cornish Creek and Williams Street plants.
Its customers include the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority; the cities of Covington, Mansfield, Newborn, Oxford and Porterdale; and the Alcovy Shores Water Authority, Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority, and Walton County Board of Commissioners, according to information from the water system.