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News Town of Franklin looks to upgrade water treatment plant system

Various components at Franklin’s water treatment facility are outdated and in need of upgrades. Depending on which option the town chooses, projected costs range from $7 million to $21.8 million.At the August Board of Aldermen meeting, representatives from McGill Associates updated officials on the current water system and provided an outlook of the future and potential upgrades that will be done.

The water treatment plant upgrade and expansion has been on the "to-do" list for some time now. The plant at its current state supplies the town with about two million gallons of water per day from the Cartoogechaye Creek. It is located at the Industrial Park off of Highway 64 West.

Keith Webb, vice president of McGill Associates provided an overview of the town's water situation to the board.

“Safe water is something that determines how well the citizens are served,” said Webb.

The current facility was built in 1975 with upgrades coming in 1997, 2000, and another in 2007.

“You can see there's not been a lot of expenditures and upgrades to the plant and it continues to make good water every day,” Webb told the board. “But there are things that need to be done.”

According to Webb, the stream is rated to be able to safely deliver three million gallons of water to the public each day.

A recent growth study predicted that there will be a need for an increased supply by the year 2020.

“The current supply is very good but what the study shows is that in order to upgrade and expand your facility, there is an expenditure of about $21.8 million required,” said Webb.

Mike Dowd was given the task of providing the board with various approaches to not only provide the needed upgrade but also to save a large portion of that original price tag.

Some alternatives that Dowd offered include putting a new plant on a new site that would cost $15 to $18 million which would not include property acquisition.

The idea of using package plants was also discussed. These plants are a viable option because they cost less as a result of taking up less space, but are still effective in producing clean water. The cost of a package plant could cost $7 to $9 million, not including the cost of land.

“An idea that we talked to the town about was a strategic phased upgrade and expansion to maximize your assets that you have there and minimize the impact to your customers,” Dowd said. “So, we have two options. We can upgrade and expand the plant using existing traditional process. That comes with a price tag of about $9.3 million. Alternatively, looking at a package plant renovation, the estimated cost is just under $8 million.”

Aldermen Patti Abel asked the McGill representatives which option would last the longest to which the use of a package plant was suggested and in doing so a phased approach would still be used during the construction money on the first phase and the rest on the second phase.

“We feel as though, since we have the support of the state and they have identified these needs as high priority, the funding chances are improved,” Dowd told the aldermen.

Dennie Martin followed Dowd to discuss some funding options for the project.

“There are three options for funding on phase one,” said Martin. “There's the State Revolving Loan Fund, the USDA Rural Development Program and conventional funding. The timing is critical. The next round SRLF is set for Sept 30. They're one time a year cycles. And that program is pretty advantageous. There's a good chance of getting zero percent interest.”

The United States Development Authority's loan wasn't focused on much with preference seemingly falling to the Revolving Loan Fund. “All of the options probably do not include any grant money,” Martin said.

At the direction of the board, Town Manager Summer Woodard will begin to work with McGill Associates to secure funding to move forward with the upgrade.

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