A possible engineering miscalculation has forced construction on the $49.8 million Waste Water Plant 1 to temporarily stop. The delay has already cost almost six weeks of construction, and it may be months if not longer before work restarts.

The new sewage treatment plant was originally scheduled to open March 2025 and was necessary due to the extraordinary growth experienced by Georgetown. Multiple development plans, including construction of a new Scott County High School, are contingent upon plans for the increased capacity offered by the new Waste Water Plant 1.

Work stopped on Sept. 9 when contractors Judy Construction and GRW Engineering notified Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service of concerns about the construction, particularly the concrete foundation. Some “$5 to $6 million of concrete” has been poured at the site, but apparently there are concerns an engineering miscalculation may have resulted in the plant’s foundation thickness not strong enough to hold under certain conditions. 

The City of Georgetown and Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service have hired a national engineering forensics firm to look at the site and help determine the best path forward. The cost of the inspection will be $80,000 and is likely to be held within three weeks to four weeks, said Mayor Tom Prather.

GRW Engineering of Lexington, the company that provided engineering specs for the plant, has retained another Lexington engineering firm to do an inspection, but city and GMWSS officials want a company with more experience on sewage plants and is more independent than the company retained by GRW. Officials have said the engineering firm hired by GRW indicates additional concrete can be poured on top of the existing slab, but GMWSS officials are skeptical and fear the existing concrete may need to be removed and the foundation restarted in order for the building to remain structurally sound.

Some walls have already started being put into place, which adds to the cost and difficulty of any necessary corrections. 

“GMWSS will retain an independent, third-party, structural engineer that specializes in water/wastewater structural design and forensics to review the entire structural design as bid by Judy Construction,” said Chase Azevedo, GMWSS general manager. “The third party engineer will determine the nature and magnitude of any design deficiencies.

“Concurrently, GRW is performing the same review. After GMWSS’s third-party engineer and GRW determined any and all deficiencies, GRW will recommend corrective actions. All corrective actions will then be reviewed and approved by the GMWSS’ third party engineer.”

Those corrective actions will be issued and implemented by Judy Construction through the contractural order process, Azevedo said.

The project was 212 days into the contract when work was stopped, records show. Hundreds of workers have been affected by the work stoppage, and GMWSS officials cannot say when work on the project may restart. The eventual cost of any corrections is also unknown, officials said.

Prather outlined the situation to the city council during last night’s meeting.


Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com. 

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