FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County officials and water and sewer staff plan to explore the options around becoming a trustee of three private wastewater plants.
Tim Perkins, the county’s water and sewer director, said the state’s Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division used to be vigilant about monitoring private plants.
However, the division has had some staff cuts and is “not reviewing some of the things they used to,” Perkins said during a meeting Thursday morning of the water and sewer committee.
According to County Commissioner Jim Boff, trustees can sell more capacity than the plant can handle and then just walk away with no liability.
“That leaves us on the hook,” he said.
Pete Amos, who chairs the county commission, said Forsyth “should be the trustee to help protect the county’s taxpayers.”
Trustee status would let the county view how the plant was performing and get information as to how many customers are being served, said Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt.
In addition, Forsyth would have to approve any expansions of the plant or its customer base. Essentially, Merritt said, it “would allow us to monitor their plant.”
County Attorney Ken Jarrard noted that there is a possibility the EPD could delegate the trustee authority to the county, but both he and Merritt sensed that’s unlikely. Jarrard said both Polo and Old Atlanta subdivisions have resisted inspection.
“We’re a little bit vulnerable right now,” Perkins said of the EPD’s diminishing oversight, adding that it’s important to “take action to protect ourselves.”
Also during the committee meeting, there was discussion on the future location of the rapidly-growing water and sewer department, which is currently using storage and filing rooms as offices.
According to Merritt, there will be a possible site evaluation to help the department figure out future space needs and site options.