Copyright 2023 by Forsyth County, Georgia


Return Flow System

Project Background

The Fowler Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) has historically provided reuse water to customers prior to discharging into a drip field at the Shakerag WRF or directly into the Chattahoochee River. While this works well for the existing facility and conveyance infrastructure, returning flow to Lake Lanier will become a requirement in the coming years. In order for the state of Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come to an agreement on water management in Lake Lanier, wastewater effluent return flow requirements were established to ensure water availability. Areas such as Gwinnett and Gainesville that already withdraw and return water to Lake Lanier, will continue to do so in increasing volumes to balance their water needs. In order for Forsyth County to maintain its planned water withdrawal from Lake Lanier, the effluent of the Fowler WRF must be conveyed back to the lake via a return flow pipeline. Per the current Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) documents by the year 2050 the County is required to return 16 mgd (millions of gallons per day). Based on the projected expansion timeline for the Fowler WRF the return flow pipeline will be needed between the years 2030-2036.


Project Plans

Installing the return flow pipe system will allow Forsyth County to:

  • Secures future raw water withdrawal amounts needed from Lake Lanier
  • Returning Fowler WRF flow to Lake Lanier would improve drought resiliency for all water users within the lake.
  • Proposed pipeline route will pass an existing quarry which could be used for offline water storage for raw water supply.

Based on a preliminary planning the project will include the installation of 8.6 miles of pipe. At the Fowler WRF a new return flow pump station will be installed to take water from the existing reuse tank and pump back to Lake Lanier. At the discharge location in Lake Lanier, a pipe diffuser will be installed to disperse the water via discharge nozzles into Lake Lanier in a diffused manner.

The pipeline, pump station, and diffuser will each be constructed under separate projects.

  • The pipeline will be constructed first to secure the route (Phase 1)
  • The pump station will be constructed when it is necessary to expand Fowler WRF beyond 7.5 MGD (Phase 2)
  • The timing of the diffuser construction will depend largely on the USACE permitting process (Phase 3)


The WRF Return Pump will be funded by a combination of local funds and awarded funds given by the State of Georgia.

In February 2022, Gov. Brian P. Kemp, along with members of the Georgia Water and Sewer Infrastructure Committee and other state leaders, announced that Forsyth County has been awarded $32.6 million for future water and sewer infrastructure upgrades and projects with the intent of the money going towards the Fowler WRf Return Flow project. Learn more about state-awarded funds.


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Project Timeline

For Phase 1 of this project, constructing the pipeline, the project timeline including design, land acquisition and construction would extend from now until 2026 with an estimated budget of $77 million.

click here for the consultant authorization letter

click here for the land survey authorization letter

click here for the bathymetric survey at lake lanier authorization letter

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