WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Work on the expansion of Sandy Run Wastewater Treatment Plant in Warner Robins, Ga., was launched on December 5, Macon.com has reported.

The project started as a plan for improving the water quality by upgrading the cleanliness of the output but officials said that it would prove more cost effective if a few changes to the plans were made to include a capacity expansion at the facility. According to Warner Robins’ mayor Chuck Shaheen, the plant is the lifeline of the city and expanding it is a major step toward progress.

The entire project is estimated to cost about $27.5 million. Constantine Engineering, the firm behind the plan, was given $28 million as a cap for the project and the council approved a $28.5 million bond in December last year. It would have been easy to spend $60 million or $70 million on the plant but the city wanted to limit the budget, Joe Downy of Constantine Engineering said.

In an effort to reduce costs, the engineering company decided to rely heavily on existing structures that could be reused. During the groundbreaking ceremony, Constantine Engineering project manager Josh Petersen took city officials and visitors on a tour of the plant to explain how each of the existing utilities would be changed to fit the new plans. Some of them will simply be upgraded, but others will be modified to serve different purposes at different stages of the process. Petersen said that the only new utilities at the plant would be the filters, which take out particles as big as sand grains, and the clarifiers, which remove solid residue remaining after the treatment.

Plans also include the fitting of new headworks, where bigger objects and solids like toilet tissue will be removed, as well as an expansion of aeration, where microscopic particles are taken out. In addition, the plant will be provided with a new control system that can be operated online, a new sludge pump and new turbo blowers. Last, but not least, the wastewater plant will have a brand new administrative building, Macon.com said.

At present the plant has processing capacity of nine million gallons per day, but it processes about 6 million gallons per day on average. The facility was built in the 1980s and no major renovation has taken place since then, Petersen explained. According to city utilities engineer Marianne Golmitz, after the completion of the expansion the plant will be able to process 12 million gallons of water every day.

The project is likely to take about three years to complete, but Petersen said that treatment will continue throughout the renovation period. Some of the work will be transferred to Warner Robins’ second plant, Ocmulgee Treatment Plant, with a capacity to process 3 million gallons per day.

Work on upgrades in the plant will start as soon as the city issues a final permit for the project, said Golmitz. Mayor Shaheen added that the renovation of the plant would contribute to the future growth of the population of Warner Robins, but also the growth of its budget