Atlanta’s Solution to A Sustainable Water Future

Imagine a day without water to drink, take a bath, brush your teeth or for medical care and fire protection. Ensuring the reliable delivery of drinking water and redundant water storage represents a triple bottom line for Atlanta through employment opportunities, environmental protection and economic development. If the city were to lose water service, it would cost the business community $100 million a day impacting Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and major corporations like Coca-Cola.

The $300 million investment in the Water Supply Program will address the city’s aged infrastructure by reducing corrective and emergency maintenance of existing raw water delivery pipelines and bolstering operational reliability with improved automation and system redundancy. The new five-mile conveyance and storage system will closely follow the path of the original cast-iron raw water transmission lines built in 1893, 1908 and 1924 that have far exceeded their design life and one steel water main built in 1975 that deliver water from the Chattahoochee River intake to the Hemphill water treatment plant.

An $11.6 million tunnel boring machine (TBM) will excavate rocks underneath the city to create a tunnel 10 feet in diameter, connecting the Chattahoochee River and the Hemphill and Chattahoochee water treatment plants to the quarry. Vertical shafts at the water treatment plants will include pump stations to withdraw water from the tunnel system for treatment and distribution. Quarry PumpstationThe almost 30-foot, 57,000-pound front main beam was one of the first and largest sections of the TBM to arrive. Trucks will bring 1 million pieces of the massive 400-foot machine to Atlanta from Ohio. Crews will assemble the TBM underground on the quarry floor. Assembly of the machine is anticipated to be complete this September.

The Water Supply Program is scheduled for completion by December 2018. Not only will the program secure the city’s water supply for the next 100 years, but will also serve as the focal point for the new Westside Park, slated to be the largest park in Atlanta and connecting to the Atlanta BeltLine.

Additional projects to secure Atlanta’s water supply are also included in Watershed Management’s $1 billion Capital Improvement Program, including utilizing cast-in place liners to renew 12,000 linear feet of the original 30, 36 and 48-inch cast iron raw water transmission mains. A portion of the original system will remain in place after completion of the Water Supply Program to provide redundancy and further enhance reliability. The 72-inch steel main prone to failure during cold weather months will be renewed as well. Also, The Hemphill Reservoir Number 1 Embankment Project will return the 180-million gallon reservoir to active service for the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant. Together with Hemphill Reservoir number 2, a total of five days’ water supply will be provided for water treatment and distribution. The project includes minor repairs to the embankment and the construction of a permanent drainage system.

As Atlanta continues to grow and thrive as a sustainable City, delivery of clean, safe drinking water remains a top priority. Through Mayor Reed’s vision, this massive undertaking will address Atlanta’s goal of achieving flexibility in system operations and a sustainable water infrastructure for future generations.