The city of Dawsonville has been awarded $300,000 in federal funding to upgrade its sewer system.
Dawsonville City Council learned earlier this month that the Appalachian Regional Commission had approved the grant, which is intended to meet current and future wastewater needs of the city's largest employer.
Mayor James Grogan said Tuesday that the upgrades are vital to handle the increased sewage volume produced by Gold Creek Foods, a poultry packaging plant on Hwy. 9.
"We've not been able to meet their sewer capacity needs with their volume and strength of wastewater," he said. "They have 900 employees now and plans for expansion. We want to be able to help them by meeting that need."
The grant money would allow the city to build an additional pond with aeration equipment at its wastewater treatment plant.
The pond would operate in a series between the existing aeration pond and the land application system holding pond.
If the council agrees to accept the grant, Dawsonville would have to contribute an additional $300,000 to the project.
"Just because we've been approved doesn't mean we are definitely going to do it," Grogan said. "It would be February or March before [the Appalachian Regional Commission] would turn loose the money.
"Then we'd vote at that time if we want to go through with it."
Dawsonville has struggled to meet the effluent conditions of its wastewater permit in the wake of the plant's growing volume and strength of waste.
Since 2006, the city has been fined more than $8,400 by Georgia's Environmental Protection Division for violating the permit limits. Gold Creek Foods paid the fines, according to city officials.
The company, which takes chicken processed at larger operations and prepares it for smaller packaging, has taken its own steps to correct the problems, including upgrading its pretreatment facility to standards that can manage a higher level of water use.
Plant management could not be reached for comment Tuesday.