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County acquires wastewater plant
Customers may see lower bills
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

How the switch affects former Waterscape customers:

* Forsyth County charges a $10 base rate and a flow rate of $4.84 for every 1,000 gallons used. Waterscape charged a flat fee of $45.

* Jamie Payne, interim assistant director of finance, said this will be a savings for the average county homeowner, who uses about 7,200 gallons each month.

* Under the county's system, that would cost $44.84, versus the $45 flat fee under Waterscape.

* Customers in the James Creek basin will receive water bills only in January to get the water and sewer bills in sync.

* Those people can expect to see their first sewer bill from the county in the February cycle.

-- Alyssa LaRenzie

Forsyth County has begun work to expand the permit for the James Creek wastewater plant it acquired in a recent settlement.

As part of the agreement, which closed Tuesday, the county bought the James Creek facility and all its infrastructure, contracts and rights for $2 million from Waterscape.

The funding for the purchase came from the county's water and sewer fund.

The matter had been tied up in court since 2006. The settlement was reached Dec. 17.

Developers in the area gathered this fall to urge the county to settle the matter, which they said was impeding the purchase of sewer capacity, and thus development, in the area.

The sewer plant in eastern Forsyth can process 250,000 gallons per day, as set by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The county plans to double that capacity after adding some infrastructure.

In a 5-0 vote, county commissioners approved the purchase of four membranes for the facility on Tuesday, at a total cost of about $231,000.

The membranes will expand the plant's ability and are the next step the EPD requires to approve the expansion of the permit, said Tim Perkins, the county's director of water and sewer.

With that purchase, approval to expand sewer capacity could come in about two or three months, Perkins said.

The county will also change the way the facility does business from Waterscape's model to match the county's other wastewater facilities.

Customers will pay on a tiered-rate instead of a flat-rate system.

Developers, in most cases, will pay fees associated with reserving sewer capacity according to county policies.

Those who have reserved capacity with Waterscape will pay an additional $250 fee for building permits.

The fee is expected to raise more than $300,000 to "help defray the costs of settlement," said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

Commissioners clarified who owed that fee on Tuesday in a 3-2 vote, with Chairman Charles Laughinghouse and Commissioner Jim Harrell opposed.