Some $1 million in repairs have been completed on Porterdale’s hydroelectric plant, and it should begin supplying the city with power by February.
Entrepreneur Steven A. Odom purchased the plant July 15 and refurbished it, with the intent both to produce power and to install a pilot water filtration system to produce drinking water.
Odom signed a purchase and interconnecting agreement with Georgia Power. He said he expected most of the electricity to be used by Porterdale, providing a large green energy supply. Odom in August said the plant will produce an average of two to three megawatts of electricity.
The plant has been fitted with new transformers and its generators and turbines were refurbished. A small pilot filtration system is already running and Odom said he’s been drinking water from it .
He is CEO of Vclear Resources, which has co-developed technology that will allow significant amounts of drinking water to be produced by plants on rivers.
Odom said previously that the Porterdale plant is the perfect location for Vclear to test its new technology. From the top of the dam on the Yellow River, the water drops 48 feet by the time it reaches the turbines in the hydro plant. The plant will be able to generate electricity and use the pressure created by that drop to push the water through the proprietary filtration system.
If Newton County and surrounding cities are impressed with the technology’s test results, a full plant could be a possibility. Such a facility would cost $30 -$40 million, Odom said previously.
"This wasn’t a matter of coming here with expectations of getting a big contract with the county; we hope to, but we really wanted to show off the technology," he said. "The water quality is even better than we expected; it’s extremely high."
Odom estimated previously that a water treatment plant on the Yellow River could provide about 10 million gallons per day. By comparison, Newton County’s Cornish Creek Plant can produce 25 million gallons per day.
Odom and George R. Harris, Vclear’s science officer, have worked with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to create a testing schedule for the plant.
Environmental Labs Manager Denny Ivey said his company is testing the water based on a schedule created by the state and Vclear. Environmental Labs is listed as a certified microbiological and chemical drinking water analysis laboratory on gaepd.org.
"Everything has looked excellent. I don’t have numbers in front of me, but in a lot of the analysis, we’re not able to detect anything, which is what you want," he said Tuesday. "The (quality of water in the) Yellow River appears to be pretty good, too. The general technology behind their filtration is the leading edge of drinking water."
Ivey said his company has tested similar technologies, and he sees advantages.
"It’s easier to operate. The basic thing is that it’s just filtering the things out, so there’s not a lot of chemical addition. The plants don’t take a lot of footprint, beside the fact they can take from a flowing source and utilize the hydroelectric plant," he said.
Odom said his product can filter harmful elements but leave good minerals. He said some common water filtration systems, such as reverse osmosis, often remove beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium.
Reservoirs would still be needed even with the use of this technology, since they have the capacity to store large amounts of water to supply residents during drought.
Vclear has hired Rockdale County Water Resources and Environmental Labs and Services, a Carrolton-based drinking water analysis company, to test the water.