Water Utility Reports 'Super Sewage'

AUGUSTA, GA. - Residents of this Georgia town have been saving a lot of water, and water utility executives said the result is concentrated sewage, according to a report in the Augusta Chronicle newspaper.

In Augusta, utility director Max Hicks has documented that during August's heat and drought, the city's peak daily consumption totaled just 54.3 million gallons per day, Chronicle staff writer Rob Pavey wrote.

During a similar dry year in 1999, peak usage rose to 58.6 million gallons per day, and there are about 5,000 more households using city water now than in 1999.

In fast-growing Columbia County, where as many as 1,500 new hookups are added each year, water utility executive Billy Clayton has a different sort of evidence to prove there is water conservation underway - "super sewage" coming into the treatment plant. The sewage is 33% more concentrated than regular sewage at 300 PPM of solids and biota that require oxidation. The sewage the plants were receiving before was more typically at 200 PPM.

Clayton attributed the super sewage directly to low-consumption plumbing fixtures, the Chronicle reported.

"We are seeing a stronger strength sewage come back to us than we do in the Reed Creek basin and it's directly tied to low-flow fixtures," Clayton said. "It means there is not as much water to dilute sewage because all the fixtures use less water when you flush or shower."

Clayton said that water-efficient fixtures had kept peak demand at the same level as it was in the year 2000.

One reason for the interest in conservation, he said, was the four-tier rate structure that makes water $1.79 for the first 10,000 gallons but $4.88 per thousand gallons for anything more than 50,000 gallons.