300 225 Hussey Gay Bell

Named ACEC-GA State Award Recipient

Savannah, GA – Hussey Gay Bell has been selected as the State Award winner for the 2017 ACEC Georgia Engineering Excellence Awards in the “Waste and Storm Water” category for their design of the City of Richmond Hill’s new Sterling Creek 4.0 MGD Water Reclamation Facility project.

The project consisted of the planning, design and construction of a new 4.0 MGD five stage biological nutrient removal and MBR plant as a result of a consent order issued to the City for noncompliance of the existing 1.5 MGD overland flow constructed wetlands treatment plant.  And there was the City’s growth to consider. Richmond Hill’s population in 2014, according to the U.S. Census, was 11,229, compared to 6,959 in 2000. “This system will not only meet today’s need; it will meet all of our needs in the near future,” Mayor Harold Fowler commented previously.

Hussey Gay Bell was the original engineer of record for the City of Richmond Hill’s existing wastewater treatment plant with overland flow fields and constructed wetlands, built in the 1990s.  The wetland speciation changed over time and the plant began to have problems with ammonia reduction.  The aerated lagoons had significant sludge accumulation which reduced the hydraulic retention time, oxygen transfer efficiency and resulted in violations of BOD from the plant effluent.  The City ultimately entered into a consent order with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division that required design and construction of a new treatment facility and in response, selected Hussey Gay Bell to design, permit and oversee construction of the new facility.

The new plant, an Ovivo Kubota flat plate membrane bioreactor (MBR) system, is able to treat up to 3 million gallons per day – double its previous capacity of 1.5 million gallons per day. By installing additional membrane cassette equipment, the plant is readily expandable to 4.0 MGD, which the City is already permitted for. The plant will utilize several steps in treating sewage including biological treatment and solids separation via the membrane bioreactors.  Treated effluent from the new facility will be pumped to the City’s current outfall location at Elbow Swamp, as well as reused to sustain the isolated constructed wetlands system.

As the largest single expenditure in the City’s history, this project confronted highly complex challenges – designing a new plant permitted to discharge to a sensitive coastal watershed and constructing on very poor soils within a restricted timeframe to meet the requirements of an EPD consent order agreement. By embracing state-of-the-art technologies and founding new applications for tried and true technologies, this design team was able to deliver a final product to a Yellow Zone community that, by innovative design, provides the community with a renewable reuse of reclaimed water.

The Sterling Creek WRF uses the most advanced techniques to treat wastewater through biological nutrient removal, flat plate membrane technology and disinfection with ultraviolet light.  This treatment process produces reuse quality effluent as a renewable resource for non-potable irrigation of public parks, recreation areas and golf courses.  In addition, this facility produces the highest quality effluent for protection of the Ogeechee River Watershed, a critical natural resource for the community of Richmond Hill.

This project was designed, permitted and constructed in accordance with the schedule agreed upon and set forth in the City’s consent order with the Georgia EPD.

“Over six years ago when I was sworn in there were some plans to build a wastewater treatment plant; it wasn’t really state-of-the-art like this one is,” said Mayor Harold Fowler previously. “This system will not only meet today’s needs but all of our needs in the near future,” Fowler added.

“We are proud of this project and the successful partnership between the City and Hussey Gay Bell which led to the delivery of this state-of-the-art facility to the governing body and taxpayers,” said G. Holmes Bell, IV, PE, CEO of all Hussey Gay Bell companies.

“It’s because of City Council’s decision to invest in the right technology – to not only handle growth, but also to do it in an environmentally sound way – that this facility will produce the highest quality effluent possible to put back into the Ogeechee River,” added Jennifer Oetgen, PE, Hussey Gay Bell’s Principal and Lead Project Engineer for the project.

The City of Richmond Hill received $23.5 million in loans to build the state-mandated wastewater treatment facility from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), which provides communities throughout Georgia with low-interest loans to fund wastewater infrastructure and water pollution-reduction projects. The project is the largest the City has ever undertaken from a financial aspect. Constructed by Bainbridge, Georgia-based Bates Engineers/Contractors, Inc., the facility became fully operational by April 2016.

Hussey Gay Bell representatives, Mayor Harold Fowler and City Manager, Chris Lovell will formally accept this award during the inaugural Georgia Engineering Awards gala on February 25, 2017 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.