Category Archives: For Your Information

FYI – What is a Boil Water Advisory?

What Exactly is a Boil Water Advisory?

We take every measure that we can to ensure that your water is safe to drink. You can normally expect your water to flow to your house at around 60 pounds per square inch (PSI). This pressure, coupled with a small amount of chlorine that’s added at the water plant, helps insure that no harmful bacteria gets a chance to grow. A boil water advisory is a precautionary notice sent out to alert customers that a main break has caused system pressure to drop below 20 PSI. Due to this drop in pressure, bacteria may get a chance to breed and spread through the pipes. The chances of this happening may be slim, depending on how quickly we are able to restore service, but we are still going to alert you to this situation out of an abundance of caution. Until an all-clear notice is given, boiling water intended for direct consumption for at least three minutes is advised.

What Can We Do To Prevent Them?

The most important thing that anyone can do to prevent a boil water advisory is to call 811 before you dig. Some main breaks are caused by unauthorized excavating in the area of our utilities. Other main breaks are the result of natural causes or failures in material. However, making the free call to the Georgia Utilities Protection Center helps reduce the risk of hitting our mains, power lines, communications lines or gas lines as each utility will provide either a paint marking or flag indicator of the services located underground, as depicted here:

Why Are They Becoming More Frequent?

The precautionary boil water advisory process has been in United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (EPD) guidelines for many years. Prior to Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the BGJWSC did not follow the guidelines as a policy and there was no statutory enforcement of the notifications by either the EPA or EPD.

During the Hurricane Matthew response efforts, we put out a boil water advisory for the St. Simons Island district due to a major and significant service outage caused by a main break. That advisory was prompted by the recommendation of an agent of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA) embedded in the Glynn County Public Safety Complex (911 Center) at the time and was considered the right thing to do considering the large number of affected customers. We have subsequently made the decision that the right thing then is still the right thing now and into the future.

How Will I Be Notified?

We will now issue these warnings following the EPA and EPD guidance: a drop of pressure below 20 PSI for any length of time will warrant distributing a boil water advisory to the affected citizens using the most effective means available to us. Our staff will then test water samples for bacterial growth for 24 to 48 hours. Once the testing has completed without an indication of harmful bacterial growth, we will issue the all-clear.

We are presently sending that notice out from our website, to radio and print media, social media, and to those that have subscribed to our website to receive these and other regular updates. We’re pursuing more active methods to deliver the notice, such as via text or phone, but will, at the least, continue to use the existing methods, which has been approved as a ‘best practice’ by the EPD.

Please subscribe to our website to receive emails from us or follow our Facebook and Twitter pages as well to ensure that you are getting the fastest, most accurate information delivery regarding the services that we provide to you.

FYI – Toilets Are Not Trashcans

Should it be flushed or not? Many citizens in our community may find themselves questioning whether or not they are able to flush certain substances/items. If you find that you are asking yourself, “can I flush this?” allow BGJWSC to help you.

Remember the 3 P’s: Pee, Poop and Paper. Only two things should ever be flushed down the toilet through our sewer system, human excrement and toilet paper. Both are easily broken down within the sewer system allowing it to work as designed. It is safe to say anything that is not one of the two should be disposed of by other means.

Here is why:

  • Kleenex, paper towels, wet wipes ­– These items may have “flushable” on the label, but believe us when we say that they are not. They are designed to absorb and hold moisture not break down in it.
  • Band-Aids/dental floss – Though small, these items are not biodegradable and can wrap themselves around objects already in the plumbing causing small clogs that could lead to bigger ones.
  • Diapers – Made mostly out of absorbent plastic, diapers will quickly become stuck in your toilet’s piping causing almost immediate sewer back up.
  • Hygiene Products – Q-tips, cotton balls and feminine products do not break down in water which can cause a blockage over time.
  • Fats, Oils, Grease – Any kind of cooking substance or food should be disposed of by other means. They may be a liquid while they are warm, but once they cool off they solidify causing pipelines to gum up.
  • Corrosive/Poisonous – Cleaning materials should be disposed of carefully. Flushing these down the toilet may cause harm to the sewer infrastructure or the processes at the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Medication – Liquid or pill form medication should never be flushed. Medication is very harmful to the processes at the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Solids – Of course, no type of solid item, such as plastics, should ever be flushed down the toilet.

Flushing any type of these items can cause a blockage in the sewer system that may result in the community or your own sewer becoming blocked. Blockages to your home plumbing could cost thousands of dollars. Do yourself a favor and simply dispose of these items in the proper ways.

Remember Toilets are not Trashcans!

For more information, , the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is working collaboratively with other associations and groups to find common ground and safe solutions for both utilities and the environment.  The Association is advocating for elimination of harmful products and ingredients when possible and education of the public about proper disposal practices.  In addition, the Association is working with its members and other partners to create and support programs that continue to bring this vital issue to the forefront.

This For Your Information post is available as a printable PDF here: Toilets_Are_Not_Trashcans

For Your Information – Fluoride in the Water

Did you know that the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water & Sewer Commission stopped adding fluoride to the drinking water system in 2013? Why was fluoride added to the drinking water in the first place? What was the cause of the policy change and what does this change to our drinking water production mean to our health as consumers of this precious resource?

Consumers of the water produced by the JWSC may be surprised to discover that very little is done to change the water from the point where it is drawn from the deep wells served by the Upper Floridan aquifer to their point of use at home. The pure water that we drink is tens of thousands of years old. Chlorine has to be added to minimize bacterial growth when the water sits stagnant in the distribution system, but very little processing or filtering is done, otherwise. Going to the source of this process, W.O. (Billy) Simmons, Jr., the Superintendent of the Water Production Division of the JWSC, offered his perspective of an experience that he has been involved in for most of his adult life, having started at the City of Brunswick Water Department in 1983. “Over thirty years ago, the City of Brunswick was adding fluoride. The GA EPD provided grants for the purchase of equipment to start injecting fluoride. We had five stations at the time and the equipment was added at once in the early 1980s,” Simmons said (2016).  The Glynn County water system had gone through a similar process and had already discontinued injection at their seven stations before the merger of the two respective systems in 2008. We’ll soon look at why the Georgia Environmental Protective Division of the Department of Natural Resources would be taking such an active role in the fluoridation process, but it may first be helpful to understand what fluoridation is, exactly, and what benefits it provides. Continue reading

For Your Information – Opening Manhole Covers During A Storm


Riverside in Brunswick, GA – October 28, 2015

As Tropical Storm Hermine approaches, its important to recognize that citizens have been known to open up sanitary sewer manhole covers in an attempt to drain flood waters. Tropical Storm Erika in August, 2015 saw such activity. In as little as six inches of swift moving water, an adult person can be knocked off their feet. Opening up the manhole cover can cause an inrush of groundwater that can suck in persons and debris causing drowning and loss of life.

The opening of a manhole cover by any person other than BGJWSC staff is a violation of local, state, and Federal regulations, punishable by severe fines and/or imprisonment.  Doing so may or may not alleviate immediate problems with water standing in the street but will most certainly cause greater problems with the wastewater collection system and inundate the wastewater treatment plant. Law enforcement is aware of the situation and will be monitoring for report to our staff.

The BGJWSC recognizes the urgency of opening up roadways to vehicular traffic but we stress that opening up the manholes is NEVER a means to facilitate that process. Our crews will be standing by during any inclement weather event to assist where needed.

For Your Information – What is FOG?

See if this sounds familiar to you: your family is sitting around the table after eating a perfect southern meal of fried chicken; mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, macaroni; and a big helping of apple pie or peach cobbler, with a healthy spoonful of ice cream, of course. When it comes time to clean up the kitchen, where does the fry grease go? Down the drain, right? Wrong!

The grease that’s typically used for deep frying food is naturally going to solidify at room temperature and doesn’t mix well with other liquids, not a good combination for the underground systems that are used to process the wastewater that leaves your house. In fact, some sewer mains and pumping stations have to been cleaned out to get rid of the fats, thickening oils and grease that find their way into the system.  This extra work means higher bills for you and fewer staff members available to answer trouble calls. If we don’t keep the system clean, sewer backups can occur, leading to overflows at manholes or clogs in your shower drain and sinks. Imagine what kind of day you’d have if a simple toilet flush led to a backup on your bathroom floor.

We refer to this unnecessary waste as FOG, aka fats, oils and grease, and it’s a problem for all of us. FOG comes from meats, butters and margarine, lard, food scraps, sauces, salad dressings, dairy products, and cooking oil. When FOG goes down the drain, it hardens and causes sewer pipes to clog. This can lead to a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) where raw sewage actually backs up into your home, lawn, neighborhood, and streets. We’d like your help to eliminate FOG in our wastewater collection system.

Before you decide to pour fats, oils and grease down the drain STOP! and follow these guidelines:

  • Do put oil and grease in covered collection containers.
  • Do scrape food scraps from dishes into trash cans and garbage bags and dispose of properly. Avoid using the garbage disposal.
  • Do remove oil and grease from dishes, pans, fryers, and griddles. Cool first before you skim, scrape, or wipe off excess grease.
  • Don’t pour oil and grease down the drain.
  • Don’t put food scraps down the drain.
  • Don’t rinse off oil and grease with hot water.

Food grade oils can be easily placed in a closed container and put in your trashcan. Used motor oil should be taken to your auto parts store or any facility that reclaims oil.

Please do your part and cease the grease.

For Your Information – What is a Water Main Break?


Yesterday morning, some customers in the area near the Brunswick Campus of the Southeast Georgia Health System were affected by a water main break that occurred on the corner of Shrine Rd and Wildwood Dr. Service was available to the main hospital building itself, as our system does have loops and redundancies in place, but some buildings on Shrine Rd had low pressure or no water available until 4:00 p.m. Staff members from our Water Distribution Division were successful in repairing the break and will have more work involved in patching the road where excavation took place.


What Causes Water Main Breaks? Continue reading

For Your Information – What is GIS?


Before you turn on your tap and fill up a glass, the water coming to you has made quite a long trip. In our system, we have twenty-one wells that supply water to over 30,000 customers across 560 miles of pipe.

Likewise, when you flush the commode or take a shower, the wastewater makes a trip across part of the 337 miles of pipe in our system then makes its way to one of three wastewater treatment plants.

Keeping up with the location of these underground utilities previously involved hand drafted maps. This was both time-consuming, took up large amounts of storage space and required accurate cataloging to locate exactly what you need. Continue reading

For Your Information – Sewer Smoke Testing

PSA Template 2 - 960w 640h

Routinely, the Systems Monitoring Crew of the BGJWSC goes through the process of determining whether the wastewater collection system is leaking in such a way that ground water may be seeping into the system underground (infiltration) or through broken cleanout caps or manholes (inflow).  This testing is done to ensure that the wastewater treatment process is run efficiently, meaning a financial savings for all of our customers.

When work is being performed in your area, you will find a tag hanging on your doorknob.  The content of this tag is show below: Continue reading