GAINESVILLE - Traffic crossing the Chattahoochee River on State Route 60 will see some unusual activity on the waters of Lake Lanier according to officials with the City of Gainesville.
“Shortly,” Gainesville City Councilman Sam Couvillon said at Tuesday evening’s city council meeting, “anyone who’s riding over Thompson Bridge, if you’re going north and you look over to your left, the Department of Water Resources is going to begin its replacement of the outflow at the Linwood Water Reclamation Facility.”
“And that’s going to include having barges in the lake, so it’ll be noticeable to our community,” Couvillon added.
Linda MacGregor, Director of the Department of Water Resources for the city, said that the outflow valve on the lake bottom is the one originally installed when the reservoir was impounded over six decades ago.
MacGregor said of the operation mentioned by Couvillon, “Our Linwood plant sits right on Lake Lanier…and it currently has a pipe that goes into the lake and it has been there a long time.”
MacGregor said while the original pipe (circa. 1956) is still functional, the time has come to replace it with one that’s more technologically advanced. “So we’re replacing that pipe with one that will sit on the bottom of the lake and have a diffuser so that the flow from the plant will enter the river in many places, not just one place.”
“That helps with the dilution of the treated effluent with the lake water,” MacGregor explained.
MacGregor agreed with Couvillon that motorists crossing Thompson Bridge will be able to see much of the activity. “Visible on the water’s surface will be the barges, and divers will be doing the work.”
She said the new 36-inch pipe will be buried. “So that…you couldn’t see it even at the low level that the lake was at in 2007.” (According to U.S Army Corps of Engineers data the lake set a record for lowest level since impoundment on December 26, 2007, when it measured 1050.79, or 20.21-feet below full summer pool.)
MacGregor said below that record low-water level the pipe will come out of the ground and run along the lake bottom, nearly to the midway point of the lake.
She said the pipe will run about 800-feet out into the lake. “Which leaves another 850-feet of the lake…so less than half of the lake width at that point.”
MacGregor said that will still leave plenty of room for boat traffic. “The main channel of the lake (original riverbed and deepest water) is close to the other side of the lake…and (we) feel that where we are…will be minimally impacting to the boating on the lake.”
What remains of the original pipe system will not be removed so as to minimize disturbance of the lake bottom environment.
MacGregor emphasized that the water discharged into the lake by the city has always been, and will continue to be, thoroughly treated. “It meets very stringent effluent limits; it’s a very advanced technology at the plant and very reliable.”
According to the city’s website, the City of Gainesville maintains over 1,600 miles of underground water and sewer pipeline which is nearly equivalent to a continuous pipeline from Gainesville to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Work will begin soon and take a couple of months to complete. MacGregor said. “It’s about to get started and it will go into the summer.
Tours of the city’s water treatment and waste water treatment plants are available to the public. There is no charge but appointments are recommended. To find out more call (770) 535-6878 during normal business hours.