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Shakerag plant stirs stink
Johns Creek officials unhappy with county
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Forsyth County News
Johns Creek officials are making a big stink over Forsyth County's plan to build a wastewater treatment plant near the city line.

“To me, it’s not a question of if this will smell, it’s when,” said Councilwoman Bev Miller during a recent work session.

The Shakerag Water Reclamation Facility is proposed for 315 acres along Kemp Road, off McGinnis Ferry Road about 2,000 feet north of Johns Creek.

City officials say they only recently learned of the $25.3 million project. According to City Manager John Kachmar, they had about two weeks to respond to a letter from the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center.

Despite the project’s proximity to Johns Creek, there is no legal requirement for notifying nearby governments or seeking their approval.

The county bought the site along the Chattahoochee River more than 15 years ago.

Final designs for the plant, which the county says is needed to keep up with growth, was submitted to the Environmental Protection Division in December 2006. That was the same month Johns Creek was incorporated as a city.

That's little consolation to Mayor Mike Bodker and other council members, who are frustrated with what they say has been a lack of communication on the project.

“There were only conversations between us and them because we found out at the last minute that they were thinking about doing this,” Bodker said. “We found out through the [development center] and not from Forsyth County.

“The county has been very difficult for our [city] staff to deal with.”

In a twist, however, the project’s designer, CH2M Hill, is the umbrella company of CH2M Hill OMI, which manages Johns Creek.

To help explain the project and its possible impact on the city, CH2M Hill Chief Engineer Doug Baughman and Project Manager Chris Carr addressed the council on June 8.

They detailed how the proposed facility would feature modern technology and a reliable disinfecting process. Still, officials are not thrilled about the project.

Council compiled its objections and suggestions for the project and sent them to the regional development center.

“Nobody wants to have a plant like this located in their neighborhood," Kachmar said. "It’s a definitive no-no."

To Councilwoman Liz Hausmann that's the very reason why "they put it on the very edge of their county.”

But John Marshall, the county's water and wastewater plant manager, said the site was the most likely location.

"Wastewater plants tend to be at the lowest drainage area in the basin, and since this is right on the Chattahoochee, it is the likely spot for the south end of the county," he said.

The county is awaiting a permit from the EPD. Plans for the project have been drawn up, though the county still needs land disturbance permits and must bid out construction.

Marshall said officials would like the facility to be operational before 2012, though “logistically, it’s not going to happen.”

The county currently treats an average of 1.75 million gallons of wastewater per day at its treatment plants.

The county also has an intergovernmental agreement with neighboring Fulton County to treat 2 million gallons per day.

“The construction of the Shakerag plant would divert some of the flow that’s currently going to Fulton,” Marshall said. “That would both free up capacity that we’ve already purchased from Fulton, as well as give us more capacity with the Shakerag plant.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at