HTML tutorial

Isle Of Palms To Consolidate Two Wastewater Treatment Plants

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

Isle of Palms Water and Sewer Commission General Manager Chris
Jordan, right, and Special Project Administrator Bill Jenkins at the
Forest Trails wastewater treatment plant. In the background is the plant’s
equalization basin.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2022 on a project that will consolidate the Isle of Palms Water and Sewer Commission’s two wastewater treatment plants into one, expanding the Forest Trails facility at 41st Avenue and Waterway Boulevard and retiring the aging Wild Dunes plant. The project, expected to take 20 to 22 months to complete, will cost $26,178,000. It will be paid for with $16 million in revenue bonds, a $2.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a rate increase that went into effect “years ago,” according to Water and Sewer Commission General Manager Chris Jordan. The contractor is RubyCollins of Smyrna, Georgia. “The Wild Dunes plant has reached the end of its useful life. We spend a lot of money on maintenance and repairs there,” Jordan explained. The Wild Dunes plant was used when it was purchased from the city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, in 1983, when the water and sewer systems were still owned by the resort’s developer, according to Commission Special Projects Administrator Bill Jenkins. “They cut it up, put it on a truck and welded it back together,” Jenkins said. The Commission, formed in 1991, purchased the Wild Dunes water and sewer systems two years later. 

The original Forest Trails facility, also purchased used, was replaced in 2015. The design engineer for the project, Mark Yodice of Thomas & Hutton, pointed out that the new plant, to be built under more stringent code regulations than its predecessor, will be better protected from high winds, hurricanes and flooding, and its operating and repair costs will be less than those for the current plant. He pointed out that nearby residents should notice the difference as well. “No noise, no odor, no lights. We’ll be a good neighbor,” Yodice said. He added that “exceptional treatment capability” means the end product that empties into the Intracoastal Waterway will be better for the environment. Currently, treated water at the Wild Dunes plant goes into a lagoon used to irrigate both Wild Dunes golf courses. 

After the work is completed at Forest Trails, treated water will be pumped to Wild Dunes to help keep the greens and fairways in good shape. The consolidated plant will save the Commission money in ways besides operating and energy costs. Jordan pointed out that sludge is now trucked off the island for final treatment at other Lowcountry facilities in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Berkeley County and elsewhere. When the work is finished at Forest Trails, the Commission will be able to treat the sludge and send it directly to a landfill, saving $40,000 to $50,000 a year in trucking costs alone, Jordan said. In addition, the consolidated plant, which relies on membrane bioreactor technology, will produce less sludge, which means disposal costs will be lower than they are now. 

The expanded facility will have the same capacity as the current plant: 300,000 gallons a day into the Intracoastal Waterway and another $1.1 million gallons pumped to the Wild Dunes golf course irrigation pond. Jordan said the new plant’s capacity could be expanded if the Commission needed to serve more than its current total of 2,731 sewer customers. He noted that almost 1,300 homes on the island are not tied into the system, but that “this project has nothing to do with septic tanks.” 

The Forest Trails project doesn’t include work on any of the island’s 24 pump stations, 15 of them in Wild Dunes. 

Jordan said the pump stations have been rehabbed over the years and that all of them are in good shape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.