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Yellow River Water Reclamation Facility Modernization
In keeping with Gwinnett County's goals to provide the most environmentally sound wastewater treatment available, the overall system is undergoing changes to improve efficiencies and enhance operations. The County's Master Plan, which was developed with input from area citizens and serves as a planning guide for the next 50 years, calls for an increase in the treatment capacity of the Yellow River Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) from 14.5 million gallons per day (MGD) to 22 MGD. This is part of ongoing upgrading and consolidation of the County's WRFs in the Yellow River Basin, as recommended in the Master Plan. Improvement projects were completed at the site in 2003 - 2004 as an interim step.

Will the modernization increase the size of the plant site?

No. Because of ever improving technology, many of the new structures being built on the site are actually smaller than the ones currently in use. This means the buffer around the site will actually be increased in some areas. It also allows the County to achieve greater treatment capacity at the site while maintaining the environment in and around the Yellow River.

When will the modernization begin, and how long will it last?

Construction began in late 2006 and will continue for approximately six years. Estimated cost of the total project is $275 million. Like most Gwinnett County Water Resources projects, funding comes from utility revenue and bond sales proceeds.

What are the benefits of the project?

There are a number of benefits resulting from this project. Increasing the capacity of the Yellow River WRF will allow flow to be diverted from two smaller, aging treatment plants - the Beaver Ruin WRF and the Jackson Creek WRF - that will eventually be removed from service. This consolidation of treatment also brings additional benefits including:

  • "Good Neighbor" - the expansion will bring improvements for homeowners in the immediate vicinity such as improved odor control measures, stronger noise abatement measures, and reduced lighting around the site.
  • Environmental - there will be no increase in the total permitted flow discharged to the Yellow River Basin, and the flow that is discharged will meet higher standards than that currently coming from the smaller facilities. Pollutant loadings will decrease due to stricter permit requirements, including lower effluent concentrations and increased monitoring requirements.
  • Cost-efficiencies - operating and maintenance costs will decrease due to consolidation of treatment into one facility.
  • Reliability - improvements will increase capacity and aid management of flows during peak periods, meaning improved reliability of the system and enhanced facility performance.
What does modernizing the plant include?

The construction projects, which will increase the treatment capacity to 22 MGD, are essentially a rebuilding of the Yellow River WRF. Nearly every process used to treat wastewater will be greatly improved with the latest technology. Additionally, more of the odor-producing processes will be covered.

Will the surrounding neighborhood be affected by the construction?

For some neighbors the modernization projects will be more visible and generate more noise than the improvement projects that were undertaken in 2003 - 2004. However, in a continuing effort to be a good neighbor, plans are in place to minimize inconveniences to residents where possible. Gwinnett County's noise ordinance and erosion control ordinance will be followed and all odor control measures currently in place will be maintained during construction. Construction is expected to involve blasting and/or pile driving. If this type of work is necessary, it will also follow the County's noise ordinance and residents around the facility will be notified in advance. An increase in construction traffic is also expected, but the County will work with the community and local schools to address concerns.

Why are trees being cleared on the site?

Preparations are beginning for construction, and you may have seen some of this activity, including trees being cleared. Many professionals will be involved in ensuring the Yellow River project is a success, and additional office space is necessary to house the engineers who are designing the facility improvements, and eventually for the staff who will be overseeing the construction. To make space for the Temporary Design Office, trees are being cleared from an area along the east side of the facility's driveway. Click here to view a sketch illustrating where this will be located. All of this area is on DWR property, but may be visible from some residences. To limit exposure, DWR will be planting trees on the west side of the driveway to assist in shielding the view. This office space will remain for the duration of the project, expected to be about six years. The temporary offices will be removed when the project is complete and the area will be reforested.

How can I get more information?

Michael Efeyini is DWR’s project manager, and you may reach him at 678.318.2410 or