The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission’s finance and facilities committees are expected to consider a proposal to set aside funds for a smoke test of the city of Brunswick’s sewer system.

The utility conducted a smoke test on several segments of St. Simons Island’s sewer system earlier this year. Contractors injected a colored, water-based mist into the sewer system, allowing them to pinpoint leaks.

“The plan is to take what we did on the island and do it on the pipes on the mainland,” said Interim Executive Director Andrew Burroughs.

The pipes in the city are only slightly older than those on the south end of St. Simons Island, so Burroughs said he’s hopeful the results of the test will be as positive.

“We were very successful on the island in getting the system inspected, and we hope to get the same result on the mainland. It’s very encouraging moving forward,” Burroughs said.

Overall, Burroughs said the problems found on St. Simons Island were not as extreme as expected.

“We found some problems, but there was not an innumerable amount and nothing we can’t take care of,” Burroughs said.

JWSC crews are already working to fix what they can.

“We have been acting on it. We’ve replaced a lot of the low clean-outs that needed to be fixed on our side, and we’re working on how to fix the stormwater crossovers we found,” he explained.

Over the years and for any number of reasons, Burroughs said some storm drains had been accidentally connected to the sewer system instead of the drainage system, creating a stormwater crossover.

“It is a fairly common thing to find,” Burroughs said.

Also on both the finance and facilities committees’ agendas is an amendment to the utility’s agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation to pay for some water and sewer-related work it will have to do during a planned U.S. Highway 341 repaving project.

“We have manholes and water valves in their roadways that are going to be raised as part of this to the new grade,” Burroughs said. “That’s an adjustment on our end to make sure we earmark that money.”

While the cost of the work came in around $40,000 to $50,000 over what the JWSC projected, he said the agreement with GDOT doesn’t leave them much wiggle room.

“I don’t know that we’re going to get any difference in price by bidding it out ourselves,” Burroughs said.

The finance committee will also consider recommending the utility purchase a truck to haul sludge from its sewage plants to a landfill.

“We currently have a third party that hauls to the landfill,” Burroughs said. “We feel like we’re going to save 20 bucks a ton hauling it ourselves ... depending on how fuel prices go.”

The utility hauls around 5,000 tons a year, which would figure out to a $100,000 savings. Even more money could be saved in the future after planned upgrades to the Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant are complete sometime in late 2021.

Also on the finance committee’s agenda is the utility’s fiscal year 2019-2020 budget and rate resolution and an update to financial policy.

Currently, the utility doesn’t plan to raise rates.

“That’s just the standard,” Burroughs said. “Once we approve the budget, we put it out for comments to the city and the county, and the rate resolution is the commitment to the next year’s rates.”

The new policy will introduce new controls, further separating money-handling duties. Customers won’t see any change on their end, he said.

On the discussion portion of the finance committee agenda is an agreement with Verizon to upgrade an antenna mounted to a JWSC water tower. The JWSC needs an updated contract to go along with the new antenna, Burroughs explained.

The finance and facilities committee meetings are scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m., respectively, in the utility’s office at 1703 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.

Neither committee makes final decisions but will offer recommendations to the full utility commission. Everything but the Verizon antenna contract will be considered by the full commission at its meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday in the same location.

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