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The New Garden Wastewater Trucking Saga

New Garden operated two bio-treatment lagoons for its wastewater system.  The treated water was disposed of by irrigation on surrounding land dedicated for that purpose.  During 2015 the land around the South End lagoon lost capacity to absorb the needed amount of wastewater. 

 

There was about a 35% reduction in capacity.  But, the inflow did not slow down and something had to be done with the excess wastewater.  Therefore, New Garden began to truck wastewater from the South End plant to the East End plant. 

Trucking Is Expensive

By February-2016 100,000 – 150,000 gallons per day were being hauled.  This was costing $3,000 - $5,000 per day.  New Garden has confirmed that this was costing $100,000/month.  This is partially validated by operating costs going up by over $1.3 million in 2016.  This went on until the sewer sale was complete at the end of 2020.  So, over a five year period, New Garden spent somewhere between $5 - 6 million trucking wastewater.

There Was A Cheaper Alternative

There is a major untold story here questioning why New Garden wasted so much money  trucking waste.  It turns out there was an unused pipeline that could be used to pump the wastewater instead of truck it - and, pumping is a heck of a lot cheaper than trucking.  New Garden knew about this pipeline but did nothing about it. 

 

Prior to 2005 the Hartefeld subdivision pumped wastewater about two miles to the South End plant for treatment.  Then in 2005 Hartefeld switched and began pumping to the East End plant.  The pipeline to the South End plant was abandon in place.  This is documented in a 2015 Report on the South End Waste Treatment Plant (LINK). 

 

So the basic facilities were already in place to pump from the South End plant to Hartefeld and then on to the East End plant.  In spite of knowing about this pipeline, New Garden did nothing about it.  Aqua, once they owned the system, immediately started to activate this pipeline.  It took 8 – 10 months and cost less than $700,000.  Spending $700,000 to save $1.2 million/yr is a high return investment – it is a no brainer.

Why Didn't New Garden Activate The Pipeline?

Clearly, New Garden could have saved a lot of money. 

 

One possibility is that New Garden did not want to spend capital money on a system they were about to sell.  In April of 2016 Aqua was going to be picked as the buyer.  However, the deal with Aqua could have included funding for the pipeline when the sale was executed.  At the start of 2016 the New Garden sewer system had $4.4 million in cash reserves, so funding the project would not have been a problem. 

 

Another possibility is that the trucking provided a lot of justification for selling the system.  Selling the system would off load the issue onto the buyer. 

The final outcome was that the sewer sale dragged on for another five years.  If New Garden had activated that pipeline, it would have saved $4 – 5 million.  Instead New Garden trucked for five years until the system was sold.  When Aqua took over, they got busy and fixed the problem.

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