WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Warner Robins and its neighboring cities are seeing a lot of growth. New businesses and more housing mean one thing: an increased need for sewer and water maintenance.
Now, the city is working on ways to expand their utilities.
"I remember seeing not this, when I first got here, just empty spaces and woods and trees," Courtney Lee-Jackson said.
She's lived in Houston County for eight years. She works in Warner Robins, frequents Bonaire, and says the growth in both areas is noticeable.
She says you often see coming soon signs and on-going construction.
"It's drawing more people in and just providing opportunities for people," Lee-Jackson said.
As those projects come in, the city of Warner Robins is working to get the sewer and water lines to support it.
In 2019, they began planning for their a new water tower project. It sits off of Highway 41 along Crestview Church Road.
Montie Walters with Warner Robins Utility Department says the project is almost complete. He says it will help with the increased growth.
An industrial park sits across the street, where a company will be able to use the water to care for their growing vegetables. A new apartment development sits down the street.
Walters says the tower should be operational by August and will serve nearly 2,000 customers. They are also planning to expand sewer capabilities throughout the county.
"Our 20 year plan was that we would plan on 2% growth in a year, and we've seen as much as 4% growth in some areas around here," Walters said.
He says the city currently services sewer to their customers in Centerville, Byron, and Bonaire.
As they all grow, the lines fill up quicker.
"Today, we're at 12 million gallons a day capacity maximum, but we're already at 9.5 million gallons a day average," Walters said.
At this rate, this doesn't leave them a lot of room at the waste treatment plant facility. He says within the next six years, he foresees them needing to build a new one.
For now, they are focused on making sure their current pipes aren't overloaded. They plan to install larger pipes in some of their fastest-growing areas.
"Our first phase, is around the Veterans High School, we see a lot of growth around Veterans. The second phase is around Houston Lake and Lake Joy. The third phase is running lines out to Bonaire," he said.
Walters says to fund these projects the city has $25 million bond money and $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
"We're focusing the first two or three phases where we can provide services to the city, land that we can annex, and that will be in the city of Warner Robins," Walters said.
As Highway 96 grows he says it was necessary to expand the Bonaire area as well.
"There is a big need, there is more growth coming," he said.
The city had to cross over about 100 properties to complete this project. Walters says they've already started working on this process to get all of the land.
The city plans to start their first phase in August. They hope to have that project complete by the end of 2023.
They plan to have all projects complete by 2024.