BEECH ISLAND — Wielding six large pairs of scissors Friday, elected officials and others celebrated the completion of all the major work involved in Aiken County’s largest ever capital project, in terms of cost.
After several speeches underneath a white tent, they stepped into the sunlight and cut a red ribbon at the Horse Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Also known as the Horse Creek Pollution Control Facility, the plant has received upgrades worth $47.8 million that have increased its capacity from 20 million gallons per day to 26 million.
The purpose of the facility is to remove contaminants from sewage, industrial wastewater and municipal wastewater so that the remaining liquid can be returned safely to the environment.
There are three new oxidation ditches along with space for a fourth.
Improvements also were made to various other pieces of equipment, including the influent pump station, headworks, intermediate pump station, secondary clarifier and electrical system.
In addition, there is a new emergency generator.
“What we have is a tremendous incentive for attracting industry and high paying jobs to Aiken County because we can guarantee that, for most applications, we can treat the wastewater,” said Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker.
County Council member Danny Feagin described the upgraded plant as the “backbone of our economy.” He represents District 3, where the facility is located.
The designer for the wastewater treatment plant project was Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc., an architectural and engineering firm with offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The construction manager-at-risk was Brasfield & Gorrie, which is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and is one of the largest privately held construction firms in the nation, according to its website.
Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said the notice to proceed on the wastewater treatment plant project was issued in August 2017 and “substantial completion was reached” last month.
The primary work finished “about” 134 days ahead of the “anticipated construction schedule,” he added, and the cost was under budget by approximately $1 million.
“This was the first major upgrade this plant has had since it was built and completed in 1978,” Bunker said. “It was done largely in response to new EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) requirements. We already were putting water back into the Savannah River that was cleaner than what was already in the Savannah River, and we had to make it even cleaner still. This also will help lay the groundwork for future capacity when we want to go beyond the 20 million gallons per day that we currently have at this plant.”
Refreshments were served after the ribbon-cutting ceremony and they included a cake decorated to look like an oxidation ditch.
The wastewater treatment plant is at 70 PSA Road.