Contract awarded for work at Lower Smith River Wastewater Treatment Plant

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HENRY COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Lower Smith River Wastewater Treatment Plant hasn't actually served as a wastewater treatment plant since 2004 when the county de-activated it.

Most of the county's wastewater is currently treated by the city of Martinsville.

"We currently use that facility as a pre-treatment facility, where our public service authority pre-treats the waste that comes into that before sending it further down the line," said Deputy Henry County Administrator Dale Wagoner.

Now with current and future growth in the county, the county is considering re-activating the plant, as it could be more cost-effective than continuing to send the wastewater to Martinsville.

A contract was approved Tuesday afternoon for work to build a berm around the plant to help address flooding and that could help reduce the cost of treating wastewater at the plant should it be re-activated.

"One of the issues we've had at that facility is flooding. It allows rain water to enter into the sewer stream, which increases flow and increases cost to treat that sewage," Wagoner explained.

The county emphasizes though that the work has nothing to do with the possibility of re-activating the plant.

Martinsville currently receives around $1 million a year from the county for wastewater treatment, which means the city's budget would take a big hit if the plant is re-activated.

"We'd have to find other ways or other avenues of replenishing that revenue," said Martinsville Assistant City Manager Wayne Knox.

But what ways or avenues, specifically, and how the possibility of re-activation will be factored in as the city begins to develop its fiscal year 2018 budget are unclear.

"We don't want to be adversarial in our relationship with the county," Knox said.

The county has not said when a decision will be made about the plant.

If it is reactivated, according to Wagoner, it would be able to treat at least 3 million gallons per day and would be built to current environmental standards, improving the overall quality of the water in the Smith River.

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