Ellijay-Gilmer water quality awarded for eighth straight year
The Cartecay Water Treatment Plant, which provides drinking water for customers in Ellijay, East Ellijay and throughout Gilmer County, recently received its eighth straight commendation for upholding strict standards of quality.
The platinum award from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) reflects that the local water plant has not had a single violation in eight years, confirmed plant superintendent Gary Nix.
“If you have just one violation of anything, it excludes you from the awards program,” said Nix.
Monitoring the raw water intake and subsequent chemical treatment process is a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year job, said water authority director Gary McVey.
“The water plant is never unmanned. There is somebody there all the time,” McVey confirmed.
Hourly tests are run on samples drawn from the county’s two water sources, the Cartecay and Ellijay rivers.
“The operators manually test water and physically put their hands on the instrumentation to do tests every hour,” confirmed Nix. “We also have online analyzers in place that constantly maintain water quality.”
Turbidity (water cleanliness), temperature, alkalinity and pH and chlorine levels are some of the factors that are tested, said Nix.
“Turbidity and chlorine are the two big issues,” he added.
An average 2.6 million gallons are treated at the plant each day.
“Even if you break your withdrawal permit, that would (constitute) a violation,” Nix said.
Local water samples are also routinely tested for lead and copper levels at the state level.
“The state does our lead and copper testing and we’re on a three-year basis with the EPD because we’ve never had a lead or copper issue,” said Nix. “If you ever have one of those issues in Georgia, you have to get your sources tested every year.”
The Ellijay-Gilmer water plant received gold quality awards from 2008 to 2012 and platinum awards in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2013, the facility was named the GAWP’s Plant of the Year in the 3 million to 8.99 million gallon division.
“Gary runs a tight ship up there and is very hands on. The guys at the water plant do a very good job and they don’t just take it as a job that you leave and go home. They are very into what they do,” said McVey.
Nix said he takes pride not only in upholding the aforementioned water quality standards, but also in maintaining cleanliness of the facility.
“You want your water plant to be clean,” Nix said. “To me, a water plant should be as clean as a hospital because that is your drinking water facility.”
Those interested in getting a closer look can contact the water authority to arrange a tour of the plant on Victory Circle.
“We encourage any of our customers who are interested in a tour to call us and we can set up a time,” said McVey.