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The City of Camden has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its new wastewater facility. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 18. The city won in the 5,001 – 10,000 population category. Twenty-nine cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
When the Department of Health and Environmental Control deemed Camden's wastewater lagoon violated a consent order limiting effluent toxicity released in the Wateree River, officials faced a problem. With an eye on the future, officials committed to constructing a new facility to add capacity and support economic development in the area.
The biggest challenge officials faced was finding money for the massive project. City finance staff worked with the South Carolina State Revolving Fund to secure a low-interest loan for the $35 million facility. They used the funds for plans, design, legal fees, construction, equipment and engineering observation.
They selected the site of an underutilized portion of the existing treatment plant property as the location for the new plant. After months of construction, the plant was up and running. The facility incorporated an ultraviolet disinfection system, the first of its kind in the United States. This new system eliminates the release of toxic effluent into the river and produces biosolids for land application on local farms.
During construction, city officials kept residents in the loop through public meetings and a blog. For the plant's opening, officials invited the public to tour the modern facility after attending a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The city plans to turn the old lagoon into an environmental education center with an artificial wetland, walking trail, wildlife observation area and canoe launch on the Wateree River.
"Camden's wastewater project is a great example of public participation and turning dilapidated infrastructure into something positive for residents and visitors," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.