December 2006, Vol. 18, No.12

Plant Profile

Fowler Water Reclamation Facility


Location: Cumming, Ga.
Startup date: 2004
Service population: 33,000
Number of employees: 2
Design flow: 2.5 mgd (9500 m3/d)
Average flow: 530,000 gal/d (2000 m3/d)
Peak flow: 650,000 gal/d (2500 m3/d)


The Fowler Water Reclamation Facility in Cumming, Ga., relies on membrane bioreactor technology to provide high-quality effluent for reuse and land application. The facility pumps its effluent 12 mi (19 km) via a 20-in. (500-mm) pipe to various land-irrigation sites, including golf courses, soccer fields, and, finally, hay fields.

At the facility, influent is first screened and run through a grit removal process. Next, it flows through an anoxic tank for denitrification. The denitrified water then enters four Zenon Membrane Solutions (Oakville, Ontario) membrane process trains, where the biological treatment occurs and the water is pulled through the membranes with a vacuum system. Because it has the membrane system, the facility has no secondary clarifiers. After the membrane filtration step, the flow undergoes ultraviolet disinfection and is placed in a storage tank.

Even though the final effluent has no chlorine added to prevent bacterial regrowth while in the reuse piping, the operators say that to this point there is no evidence of algae or slime growth in the reuse pipes.

The plant’s solids are aerobically digested and thickened. After centrifuge dewatering, the biosolids are shipped to the privately owned Eagle Point Landfill for disposal.

Design, construction, and startup of the 2-year old facility were accomplished in only 23 months. The quick timetable was possible because the transmission lines to the facility were installed and in service before the facility was finished. Flows were temporarily pumped to a treatment plant in Fulton County, Ga.

Despite the quick build, the 2.5-mgd (9500-m3/d) facility easily meets Georgia’s requirements for wastewater reuse applications. Biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids are consistently below the reporting limit, and fecal coliform concentrations are zero.

Additionally, as flows from the service area rise, the 33,300-ft3 (943-m3) facility simply can add more membrane units to increase capacity. In all, the facility can add 24 more membranes to increase capacity 1.25 mgd (4700 m3).

The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (Marietta) recognized the Fowler facility as its 2006 Wastewater Plant of the Year in the 1.0 mgd (3800 m3/d) and less nondischarging category. The facility was recognized among other Georgia facilities for its excellence in compliance, permit monitoring, safety, maintenance, and training.

Moreover, the facility has become a model for the Zenon membrane process it uses, often hosting tours to engineers and those interested in learning more about Zenon membranes. While the membrane technology is more complex to operate, it simplifies the flow process.