By Scott McKie B.P.
One Feather staff
A plan that would double the capacity of the EBCI Waste Water Treatment Plant, located in the Birdtown Community, was discussed by the Planning Board on Monday, Dec. 14. The plant currently has a capacity of three million gallons per day, and the proposed expansion would double that to six million gallons per day.
Mike Calhoun, of Vaughn and Melton Engineering in Asheville, gave a presentation to Planning Board on the preliminary plans for the project. Along with several others, Calhoun has toured a few existing treatment plants in Atlanta and Raleigh and one in Highlands. “We did those tours to get an idea of the recent technology.”
Principal Chief Michell Hicks said it is important to keep growth in mind when planning for the expansion of the plant. “Let’s just make sure that we’re planning – it has to be at least 15-20 years. We’ve got to think out that far.”
Vice Chairman B. Ensley, who is also chairman of Planning Board, asked what percentage the system was at currently. Calhoun related the system averages 1.2 million gallons per day which is close to 50 percent but said that will increase dramatically with the rapid development at the casino and the plans for future restaurants and hotels.
Calhoun said the plans are in the very preliminary stage at the moment and related that a better idea of costs and the technology that will be used will be available next month.
According to Calhoun, the plant is currently the third largest energy user in Cherokee right behind Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and the Cherokee Central Schools. There are plans to incorporate green alternatives into the plans for the new plant including: variable speed pumps and high efficiency motors, off-peak cycling, enhancing composting capabilities, noise reduction from blowers, and nutrient removal.
Calhoun also said they will be conservative in the expansion. “We’re looking at using as much of the existing treatment plant as we can.”
A period of public comment is currently being held and comments on this project can be sent to: Ken Green, P.O. Box 547, Cherokee, NC 28719, or call 497-1892.