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Superintendent Jason Manning explains how the clarifier works at GUC’s Wastewater Treatment Plant during a tour in 2015. GUC needs to replace one of its five clarifiers, due to its cracked concrete floor.

Greenville Utilities Board of Commissioners learned Thursday the organization expects to spend $6 million replacing a tank critical to wastewater treatment because of damage that recently was discovered.

The replacement project costs should not cause customer sewer fees to rise, said David Springer, GUC’s assistant director of water resource. However, it did require rearranging several planned capital improvement projects at the wastewater treatment plant.

GUC needs to replace one of five clarifiers located at the treatment plant. Clarifiers are concrete tanks used to remove large solids from wastewater before it continues through the treatment process. Three of the tanks are 35 years old and one has a cracked concrete floor. The damaged was caused by buckling of the ground underneath the tank, Springer said. The damage was discovered in May during routine maintenance of the three tanks.

The tank provided 20 percent of the plant’s clarification capacity, Springer said. With it out of commission, there are concerns about the plant’s ability to treat high flows that occur during hurricanes and flooding rains.

The North Carolina Division of Water Resources advised GUC to restore the capacity or risk seeing it plant capacity reduced, which could slow customer growth, Springer said. GUC current maximum treatment capacity is 17.5 million gallons daily. The plant typically treats 10.5 million gallons daily.

Staff is proposing the damaged tank be replaced by two new clarifiers. Springer said adding another tank, which would bring the total to six, would enhance the existing treatment process and increase treatment capacity to about 22.5 million gallons daily. Increasing capacity was a need identified in GUC’s 2014 master plan for the plant, he said.

Staff will ask the GUC board to officially establish a sewer capital budget in August, Springer said. Staff are looking at applying for a grant that was partially fund the project.

News of the replacement came the same day two new individuals joined the board and a new slate of officers were selected.

Joel Butler, retired chief external affairs officer for Vidant Health, was elected chairman. He has been on the board since 2014 and previously served as secretary and chair-elect.

Parker Overton was elected chairman-elect, having served as secretary in 2018-19. He’s been on the board since since 2015 and is the retired founder of Overton’s Boating Accessories and Watersports.

Tommy Stoughton was elected secretary. He has served on the board since 2015 and is a partner at Kittrell and Armstrong.

Two new members also joined the board. Pete Geiger and Lindsey Griffin both were appointed to three-year terms by Greenville City Council.

Griffin is a Pitt County native who owned a commercial landscaping business for 30 years. He recently providing services to businesses across the state. When he retired he sold the business to the employees and works part-time as a consultant. He’s also volunteered with several local and state organizations.

“I am very excited about serving on the GUC Board,” said Griffin. “I enjoy being involved and really want to help good things happen in Eastern North Carolina.”

Geiger is chief financial officer for RFPi, a medical device company utilizing technology developed at East Carolina University. He is also manager and chief financial officer of Kaio Therapy, a development stage cancer therapy company. He previously served in major financial roles for Geiger Investments, Patheon, DSM Pharmaceuticals, and Cinergy Corporation, now Duke Energy.

“I look forward to working with the dynamic members of GUC’s board and management team led by Tony Cannon, as they build upon their strong track record,” said Geiger, who moved to Greenville with his family in 2004. “I am eager to learn more about the exciting projects that GUC is undertaking in support of the growth of the Greenville region.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.