Forsyth County recently began re-negotiating the county’s water contract with the city of Cumming which expires in May.
Until 1998, the county relied on the city to supply finished water to all county residents. In 1998, the county built its own treatment plant for $18 million. Under a 1998 settlement over water rates, the county agreed to continue to buy 1,628,204,220 gallons annually from the city until the end of the contract, averaging 4.46 million gallons per day (MGD), even though the county could finish all of the water it then needed.
In 20l1, that water cost the county $3,956,536, yet the county only needed water from the city on about 67 days that summer. Per the county water department, in 2011 the county only needed to buy about 270 million gallons from the city to meet consumption, at a cost of $656,100.
The county has a new $20 million plant starting up in July and has requested the EPD grant it permission to finish an additional 12MGD, giving the county a capacity of 28MGD with both plants. This would give the county the ability to finish all of its own water at a cost of about $0.52/1000G; while the city currently charges the county $2.43/1000G.
Rumor has it that the EPD will not approve the new permit, because the current board of commissioners and state legislators are not pressuring them to do so. Without this permit, the county will continue to be a slave to the city, and the mayor will get a continuation of the current contract with virtually the same terms, costing the county almost $4M annually. Rumor has it, the mayor wants a 25-50 year contract!
The citizens of Forsyth County need to let the current board of commissioners (including three who are up for re-election), and legislators Jack Murphy, Mark Hamilton, Steve Gooch and Mike Dudgeon know that we expect them to stand up for the county’s 175,511 residents rather than the city’s 5,430 residents. It is way past time for control of water in Forsyth County to pass from the city of Cumming to the county.