On June 21, 2023 the Johns Creek Environmental Campus hosted a Scavenger Hunt to the Sea Day at the Stop.
JCEC is a $138M state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility with an educational center that has offered award-winning educational programs to over 45,000 visitors. Visitors discuss various water topics, i.e., pollution, treatment, conservation, etc. and go through every step of the process. They see videos, do water lab activities, and even get a tour of the actual plant to see where all the water goes.
Our tour guide was the fabulous David Horton, who designed the facility. Which means we were in good hands. David is an experienced engineer, and also a master of the force.
Water Treatment centers are where water goes after it leaves homes and buildings. All that wastewater is full of bacteria, poop, and even jeans (yes David has seen a pair of jeans in the large screens). We can’t just put that back in the river. It needs to be cleaned up.
As you can imagine – Wastewater Treatment Facilities have a bad rap. Poop smells. I honestly was a little hesitant to go tour it. But, thanks to some amazing Engineering (thanks David!) this purpose-built facility has amazing odor trapping abilities, and sound dampening tricks. The facility was built mainly underground. My nose was pleasantly surprised.
In fact – the actual treatment facility only takes up approximately 8 acres of the site. The are about 35 additional acres that are open to the public with walking trails through wetlands all the way to the banks of the Chattahoochee.
All these pipes you see? Those are all air filters and gas traps – the actual water treatment is occurring below the metal roofing.
To get clean water from wastewater, the water goes through a series of smaller and smaller screens to grab debris. And it goes through treatment to remove harmful chemicals and bacteria. And then – as long as it meets rigorous testing requirements – it goes back out into the river.
In this case – the Johns Creek Facility sends the water back into our beloved Chattahoochee River. Which most Atlantans get their drinking water from (and also – your locally bottled Coke products). So we need this water to be fresh and clean.
Below you’ll see the clean water rushing over a series of falls to aerate it before it goes back into the river.
And this eerie green glow? It’s not a horror movie blob – it’s a final UV treatment to get all bacteria.
The smallest membranes on the water’s journey are sub-millimeter holes that have been laser etched into small tubes. See a picture of a large mesh of these tubes below. This laser cutting technique is now used for many products including “life straws.”
David asked us to remember that “Water doesn’t adapt to us, we adapt to water” and to please keep all Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGS) out of your wastewater.
Learn More & Visit
If you are interested in scheduling a visit to the facility, please email [email protected] or call to schedule at (404) 613-3012. Johns Creek Environmental Campus 8100 Holcomb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, GA 30022