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Water standoff prompts protest
Organizers upset by city's actions
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Forsyth County News

If you go

• What: Water Dispute — March on the Courthouse

• When: 2 p.m. today

• Where: Forsyth County Courthouse

Concerned Forsyth County residents will take to the Cumming square today at 2 p.m. to inform the public and protest the city’s position in an ongoing dispute about water contracts.

The county and city governments have not been able to agree on a new contract since the previous one expired in May.

Forsyth has a permit allocation from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, but no way to draw the water from Lake Lanier. As a result, it purchases most of its untreated, as well as some treated, water from Cumming.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt declared on Aug. 24 that the city would shut off the county’s water supply from the water intake facility at the lake if an agreement is not reached by Oct. 1.

The county would still be able to buy treated water at a higher rate to provide its customers.

The county commission is exploring options to go to court over the dispute.

Hal Schneider, an organizer of the event, said the threat to turn off the water supply to the county incited him and another county resident to action.

“We really need to let people know what’s going on and let the mayor know that we’re not happy about what he’s planning on doing,” Schneider said. “So we decided to team up and have a little rally at the courthouse.”

Since the price of purchasing treated water from the city is $2.50 per 1,000 gallons, compared to about 10 cents per 1,000 gallons charged for untreated water, Schneider said it’s likely that water bills could multiply for county customers if only treated water is available for Forsyth to purchase.

He estimated an increase of three to five times possible.

“And I don’t think people know that,” Schneider said. “I don’t think people are paying attention to what the ramifications are of not getting the water contract resolved.”

Those who participate in the rally will hand out brochures with information and wave signs to raise awareness of their concerns, he said.

The event is open to anyone interested. Schneider isn’t sure what kind of turnout to expect, but hopes for a couple hundred.

“I hope we get a good crowd out there and the mayor will listen to what we say,” Schneider said. “We’re just looking for fairness … a fair deal from the city for the water that we actually need and not water we don’t need but he wants to sell.”