Looks Great, Runs Great

A visually appealing treatment plant helps inspire operators to perform and creates a positive impression for community residents and visitors.
Looks Great, Runs Great
Visitors are greeted by a tree-shaded entry sign and an entry gate flanked by junipers and river birches. Planting beds lush in ornamental Yaku Jima grass and low-lying holly bushes add a welcoming touch.

Chris Hamilton doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that the W.B. Casey Water Reclamation Facility was named Wastewater Plant of the Year by the Georgia Association of Water Professionals last June, just a year after winning a beautification award from the Keep Clayton County Beautiful organization.

Hamilton, plant supervisor, believes the Clayton County Water Authority’s focus on the site’s aesthetics plays a key role in the attitude and performance of the operations staff.

“If we go the extra mile, it encourages the staff to go that extra mile,” he says. “When you pull into a facility such as ours and it’s nice, neat and clean, it helps promote a certain pride in the staff. If you take pride in how it looks, then you take pride in how it operates.”

The W.B. Casey plant, in Jonesboro, Ga., is an activated sludge facility with a licensed capacity of 24 mgd. It is one of three treatment plants operated by the CCWA, serving a growing customer base of more than 250,000 in Clayton County and its six cities on the southern outskirts of Atlanta.

Sensitive surroundings

The utility’s original treatment plant was built in 1958 in what was a fairly remote area, well away from the residents and businesses. By the time the current W.B. Casey plant began operations in 2004 on a parcel fronting the old plant site, it was on a major business thoroughfare and directly across the street from an apartment complex.

The trees and the planting beds along the plant’s road frontage and shading its entrance were all part of the 2004 construction project. As plans for the project were being introduced to the community and neighboring landowners, the landscaping plans helped the utility “put on a nice face,” says Hamilton.

The water authority gave county officials and the public assurances that the new plant would be a good neighbor. “So far we’ve done that,” says Hamilton. “We’ve held up our end. It is the nicest looking business on the road we’re located on.”

The plant is always in the public eye, and a well-groomed site makes a difference in the public’s perception. “People often smell with their eyes,” Hamilton says. “If it looks bad, they think it smells bad. But if it looks good, they might say, ‘That place doesn’t smell so bad.’

“On top of the traffic on the road, we get a lot of plant tours — schools and other groups. When they come on the property they know if you’re keeping all of this up, you’re probably doing a good job of operating it.”

Pride in upkeep

Visitors are greeted by a tree-shaded entry sign and an entry gate flanked by junipers and river birches. Planting beds lush in ornamental Yaku Jima grass and low-lying holly bushes add a welcoming touch. The entry area is being updated with sod to replace some beds that were once covered in pine straw and must be regularly maintained and replaced to keep the entry neat.

There are also plans this winter and spring to begin replacing some of the annual flower beds with perennial plantings. The landscaped areas are kept green by an irrigation system that uses the plant’s effluent.

A member of the facility maintenance staff is charged with taking care of the landscaping, but the operators’ pride in the plant shows when they pitch in to help with some of the work or simply stop on their way to pick up a piece of litter on the grounds.

The well-kept grounds are in line with the water authority’s efforts to maintain a green operation. Those efforts are evident whenever members of the public take tours of the treatment plant and the 4,000 acres of constructed wetlands that are part of the final treatment step.


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