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Beneath the streets of Macon and Bibb County lies a complex system of sewer pipes that conducts one of the most important services offered in the community – the transport of waste away from the city. Those pipes and the people that maintain them are rarely seen, but their work was recently awarded one of the highest accolades in the industry. The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) named the sewer collection system of the Macon Water Authority (MWA) the “Wastewater Collection System of the Year” for 2005.
The MWA’s sewer collection system encompasses a 250-sq mi service area that includes over 935 mi of pipe, 52 pumping stations and two plants. Wastewater traveling through the MWA sewer collection system gravity flows or is pumped to either the Lower Poplar Street or Rocky Creek Water Reclamation Facilities. Together, these two plants have a treatment capacity reaching 42 mgd.
The GAWP award was given to the MWA in the medium sized system category for utilities serving between 10,000 and 50,000 customers. Currently, the MWA services roughly 46,000 sewer customer accounts.
The MWA has conducted many major capital projects on the sewer system in recent months, including relining manholes and sewer mains throughout its system. Older mains made out of concrete and clay pipe have deteriorated over time and have allowed root intrusion and water infiltration into the system. These relining projects involve procedures to install new pipe liners inside of the old existing pipes.
Another highlight of the MWA sewer collection system is its Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) program. The CMOM program was developed to optimize the collection department activities, as well as to provide an understanding of the MWA’s sewer system’s capabilities. As part of this program, the MWA utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to monitor and streamline its daily operation and maintenance, as well as mapping and rehabilitation projects.
“We are proud to recognize municipal programs that exemplify sound infrastructure management and provide outstanding water resource protection,” said Jack Dozier, GAWP executive director. “The Collection System of the Year award is presented to the best programs in the state and is the highest recognition offered by our Association.”
The MWA Sewer Conveyance Department consists of 30 full-time employees supported by Engineering, Plant Operations and Customer Service. In an effort to continue to further educate its staff, the MWA conducts weekly safety and CMOM classes to prepare its employees for certification exams and performance incentives. The positive results of these programs have led to a dramatic decrease of over 50% fewer sanitary sewer spills in 2005, when compared to 2004.
“The sewer collection department here at the MWA is made up of some of the most dedicated and well-trained individuals in the industry,” says Frank C. Amerson, Jr., chairman of the MWA board of directors. “They do a job vital to the health of this community out of the public eye, and that is why I am so excited to see them honored by their peers in the industry.”