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What the county plans to do about water projects
county water plant 3 jd
This pipe connects to a raw water storage tank that hold 20 million gallons of untreated water from Lake Lanier. - photo by Jim Dean

A few topics concerning Forsyth County’s water and sewer department came up at a recent work session, including the status of future plans with the city of Cumming.

At the meeting, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to have county staff get a quote from the county’s consultant for the scope of work for returning treated water to Lake Lanier.

In February, at a joint meeting of the Cumming City Council and Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, officials discussed a new combined project to release treated water into Lake Lanier.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Tim Perkins, director of the county’s water and sewer department, said the timelines for the municipalities might not match for certain projects.

“Presently, our schedules, our timing, are not lining up very well on who has a need,” Perkins said. “The city does not have the pressing need, so they don’t have as big a need to push something forward.”

Much of the discussion centered on a plan to return treated wastewater from the county’s Fowler Wastewater Treatment Facility to Lake Lanier.

Perkins said the city had a later deadline from the state to return water to the lake but the county needed “to start right now” on deciding whether to work to expand how much they can return to the Chattahoochee River or bringing the flow back to the lake.

He said the county needs to move ahead with or without the city and there are other problems both could look at.

“[Cumming Utilities Director Jon Heard] and I agreed there are several things in the next few years that we can look to work together on as they come up … and we should always look to see if it makes more sense to do it differently before doing a project,” Perkins said.

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said city officials wanted more data before making a decision.

“We will continue to reach out to the city to see if they want to join this and will agree to fund part of this during work,” he said. “I think they simply were not comfortable before Jon had an opportunity to review this with his elected officials. He was not comfortable with adding his signature to what you have here today.”

A proposed treatment facility in northeast Forsyth also briefly came up. Perkins said he felt that was a county project but there were some parts of the plan that might have some benefits to the city.

During the meeting, commissioners also unanimously approved $15,000 to participate in a toilet retrofit program, $93,456 for four 2019 Ford F-150s for the water department and $63,642.49 to purchase a variable frequency drive for a water pump at the Antioch Water Treatment Facility. All those items were funded through the water and sewer department’s 2019 budget.