Some changes are coming to Forsyth County sewer and irrigation customers.
Water and Sewer Department Director Tim Perkins said specifics are still being worked out, but the way businesses purchasing sewer capacity is currently under review to make a more streamlined process. In addition, customers with irrigation meters will see an increase in cost in the coming months.
Last month, the department did a review of 800 businesses in the county. Of that group, 200 were exceeding their water capacity limit.
During Thursday’s water and sewer committee meeting, Perkins said “we don’t want them to buy any more than they have to,” but clearly, some cleanup is needed in the process, which has left those 200 businesses purchasing anywhere from 300,000 to 350,000 gallons beyond their capacity last month.
After the meeting, Perkins explained the current process, where a business hires an engineer to estimate the amount of sewer capacity the entity will need. Often, he said, the businesses either grow or a larger business moves in, using more water than originally intended. While there are penalties for going over capacity, Perkins said it also leaves the department in the dark on how much more water is being used each month.
“It’s a hard balance — a hard struggle,” Perkins said. “We’re still working on this ... we’re going to add some language so when they use their own engineer’s calculations and when they’re making their estimates, we’re just going to make it a little clearer about how to do that and that they can’t exceed what they buy.”
The other major change discussed during the committee meeting was the price increases for irrigation customers — something Perkins said is only being done to be in compliance with the Metro North Georgia Water Planning District.
“It could hold up permits, so we’ve got to get into compliance,” he said.
To be in compliance, the county’s irrigation rate has to be two times the price of the first tier rate for potable water.
“At a minimum, the rate for irrigation should be equal to or greater to 200 percent of the first tier rate,” Perkins said. “It’s to force conservation of water.”
The irrigation rate for the first tier is currently $4.53. Potable water’s first tier rate is $3.40. To be in compliance, the $4.53 rate would need to be increased to $6.80.
Irrigation meters are not common in the county, Perkins said. Typically, individuals and businesses opt for those meters to save on sewer costs, however the new changes could lead several to discontinue their irrigation meters and switch, though Perkins said it might still be cheaper to stick with irrigation.
“I think there’s still going to be a savings — it really depends on how much water they’re using,” he said.