Technology Boost for a New Operations Contract

Technology Boost for a New Operations Contract

DECEMBER 17, 2020

About a decade ago, Woodard & Curran began working with Ellijay-Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority servicing the water treatment plant’s SCADA system. A few years ago, we started working on the SCADA system in the wastewater treatment plant too. So, when the authority decided to seek an operations contract for its wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and we responded to their request for proposal, Woodard & Curran came out on top of the list of others because of our existing relationship. 

Since assuming contract operations in July, amid the ongoing pandemic, it has been all hands-on deck getting the facilities caught up on regulatory and maintenance tasks. 

Introducing Tech for Operational Efficiency

Located about 80 miles northwest of Atlanta, the activated sludge, extended air WWTP is permitted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA DEP) to treat up to 4.0 million gallons per day (MGD), but the facility is only operating on average at 50 percent capacity. The plant removes phosphorus down to a level of 0.75 parts per million, discharging the reclaimed water to the Coosawattee River. In addition to receiving residential flows, nearly 70 percent of the wastewater treated comes from a local chicken processing plant. The facility also receives about 130,000 gallons of concentrated leachate daily, producing revenue for the county.  

When we assumed contract operations, there was an abundance of paper logs the operators were using to track everything at the WWTP. We worked with our technology team to implement software and convert the paper logs into a digital format. We also introduced a computerized maintenance management system to digitally record and manage assets and work orders. The software has streamlined tasks for the WWTP staff and improved operational efficiency. In addition to working with our technology experts, we have engaged our engineers to review the WWTP comprehensive plan, identify and prioritize capital improvements, and assess the treatment process to identify opportunities for further improvements. 

Close to Home 

Derek Burton, Project Manager, spent the last six of his 20-year career at Woodard & Curran working at another facility south of Atlanta. Under his leadership, the facility won Plant of the Year twice from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) along with a host of compliance related awards. However, he was spending three to four nights away from his Ellijay home for the past six years. When the opportunity arose to take on contract operations in Ellijay, he transitioned to the role of project manager at the WWTP in Ellijay, overseeing a small staff and a unique facility. 

“I was motivated to take on this new challenge as an opportunity to help make another project for the company a success,” said Burton, admitting it’s nice to eat dinner at home and sleep in his own bed every night. 

After operating understaffed for about three months, the WWTP is now fully staffed and everyone is adapting to the new software well. Burton hopes that by the end of the year, everyone will be up to speed, and caught up on various regulatory requirements and reporting. From there, the team will be able to leverage its new systems to identify funding opportunities for delayed maintenance or necessary treatment upgrades. 


Operations Leader
Operations & Management

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Glenn Burden, Area Manager
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