City pilot program could tackle sewage issues in several neighborhoods


AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – A solution is brewing for people who are not tied into the city’s sewage line. Several homeowners throughout the C.S.R.A have septic tanks installed in their yards which can easily overflow. A new city pilot program could finally put an end to this decades-long problem.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s a step in the right direction, said Cary Roberts.

Cary Roberts has been living in Asbury Hill for more than two decades and that’s how long he’s had his septic tank and all the problems that come with it.

“When it rains real hard, it overflows and then you have to call the septic tank people to come out here and pump the tank,” he said.

And every time he has the tank pumped it costs him money- that he didn’t plan on having to spend.

“Depending on what day it is anywhere from 250 to 350 dollars each time they come out,” said Roberts.

Dozens of neighbors are experiencing the same issue. Asbury Hill is one of several neighborhoods in Augusta that was never tied in on the city’s sewage line. As a result, many residents are still relying on septic tanks that don’t stand well against heavy rain causing waste to overflow in yards. It’s a historical issue, but change is on the horizon, thanks to a new pilot program.

“What we’ve determined or decided to try was to use a what’s called a step system. A septic tank influent stepping system,” said Wes Byne.

Wes Byne is the director of Augusta Utilities. He says this system will serve as a cheaper alternative instead of the 25 million dollars to get everyone tied in on the sewage line.

“This entails putting in a small tank and a pump in the user’s septic tank and basically switching over to that tank and pump and it pumps through a very small force main for the limited number of residents and then goes down the road.”

This pilot program will be used as a trial run to see if the system is successful. Byne says right now they’re only looking to target around 10 to 12 residents.

“We’re specifically targeting these residents because they have access to the sanitary sewers at the end of their streets, but they can’t get there by gravity,” he said.

Byne says the designs for the system are about 90 percent complete and he’s hoping to start the program by August of 2022.

He says, “we need to try it and see what the shortcomings are and what the successes are.”

“I did say this was one project that I wanted to see started and I liked to see it get completed during my time, but this pilot program if it works, it will be something that hopefully wouldn’t take as long as what was intended on being done before the program,” said District 3 Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

Even once the program begins, it’ll take about a year to see if it works before the program could be expanded.

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