- Local News
--By Brad Wilkins on --
The city of Cumming has decided to shut off the sale of raw water to Forsyth County as of October 1, 2012. At the Cumming City Council meeting on Tuesday August 21, the council approved 5-0, the motion to end the sale of untreated water to Forsyth County. Mayor Gravitt told the Cumming City Council that they could not resolve outstanding issues contained in the County’s most recent water proposal. In dispute are a range of issues including an unpaid $11.4 million invoice that Gravitt claims the county owes for improvements made to the intake on Lake Lanier.
The clock is ticking and the two governments have less than six weeks to settle their water contract dispute before the shut off takes effect. Residents of Forsyth County will still get water, but the City will only provide treated water at a cost above the cost for raw water.
At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Gravitt stated, “I’m going to request and recommend that as of Oct. 1 of this year, that we terminate the raw water portion of the county and all the water that the county will receive will come through the treated water facility of the city of Cumming at $2.50 a thousand gallons.”
According to a recent article in the Forsyth County News, Forsyth currently buys untreated and treated water from Cumming. The rates are a little more than 10 cents per 1,000 gallons for untreated and about $2.43 per 1,000 gallons for treated water.
In response to the City Council’s decision, Jim Boff, Chairman of the Forsyth County Commission told CummingHome.com in an email, “It is selfish and wrong. The mayor already agreed to terms which were generous, this would increase our cost by about 400%.”
CummingHome.com asked Chairman Boff if the city of Cumming had an agreement with Forsyth County regarding the sale of raw water to Forsyth County and he said, “Yes, however that agreement expired in May of this year.” When asked if the city of Cumming violated the agreement, Boff said, ” I do not believe they violated the old agreement, except to say that the old agreement does not require the county to pay the $11.4 M for the new intake.”
Since the EPD has already issued Forsyth County a permit, for up to 16 MGD of raw water, how can the city of Cumming refuse to provide the raw water? In an e-mail on Friday August 24, CummingHome.com posed this question to Senators Murphy and Gooch and Representatives Dudgeon and Hamilton.
Representative Mike Dudgeon responded, “I am not an attorney, but based on the intent of the permit and just common sense the city has no right to cut off the water.” Representative Dudgeon also stated, “I do not think using threats to cut off water is an appropriate negotiating technique and I am disappointed. Further, I am very disturbed that the city has reneged on the agreement that was already reached in May.”
CummingHome.com asked Hal Schneider, the chairman of the Forsyth County Tea Party if he was surprised by the Mayor’s announcement this week that the City of Cumming will no longer sell raw water to the Citizens of Forsyth County. Mr. Schneider replied, “Actually, given the way the Mayor has handled the water negotiations from the beginning, nothing really surprises me.” He continued, “The reality is, that the City MIGHT be able to finish enough water for both the City and the County during the winter months, but late next spring of next year the City would not have the capacity at their treatment plants, nor would they have the EPD permits required to finish enough water for everyone. The idea is simply unworkable from a practical standpoint, but could garner the City a huge windfall of extra cash in the interim.” Click here for the complete interview with Hal Schneider.
According to Mr. Schneider, “I don’t think there is any doubt that the County and the City signed an “agreement in principle” on May 24th, which is binding on both parties.”
The video of Tuesday’s City Council meeting has been provided by Nydia Tisdale: