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Lizz Hausmann - Fulton County Commissioner

Proposed Termination of Cauley Creek Reuse Water Facility Contract on Sept. 19th Agenda at Board of Commissioners Meeting

Posted: September 18, 2012

Many of you have contacted me regarding the Fulton County proposal to terminate their contract with the Cauley Creek Waste Water Treatment facility. This will be on the Board of Commissioner’s agenda tomorrow, September 19th. Fulton County has been asked to reconsider its actions to independently move toward cancellation by the Georgia Environmental Protection Department. The North Georgia Metro Water Planning District Executive Board has also asked the County to hold off on any action until the county has submitted and received an amendment to the Metropolitan Water Plan, as it may result in a loss of future regulatory EPD approvals and permitting, grant funding and penalties.

From the perspective of the County, this proposal is regarded as a cost savings measure. As I appreciate the potential savings, I question when the County will see these savings, how much will be saved and at what long term cost.

Cauley Creek provides reuse water, “grey water”, which is used for irrigation purposes. This water is not subject to any watering restrictions during drought conditions, and is used by churches, businesses, golf courses, and neighborhood common areas in the Johns Creek community. With the termination of the Cauley Creek facility, reuse water for irrigation will no longer be available to the over 30,000 customers that currently use this reuse water. Fulton County has no plan in place to provide reuse water again in the future, but will substitute potable, or” drinking water”, instead.

The county has offered to charge the current Cauley Creek customers the same low rate of $ .65 cents per thousand gallons instead of the higher rate of $3.02 charged for potable water until 2017. This will set up two different rate structures for different customers for the same water. I do not find this to be a fair option for the majority of Fulton County water customers.

My concern for the economic, environmental and future growth potential of this decision remains paramount. To give up capacity is both short sighted and limits our ability to realize future growth. As you may recall, the rationale for the Cauley Creek facility to be built was when Fulton County was under a sewer moratorium and the capacity for North Fulton’s growth was in the balance. It was then the decision was made for Fulton County to build the Cauley Creek facility for a 20 year term. As it stands, we will be forfeiting our future capacity availability while sacrificing the health of the very stakeholders we were trying to secure – years ahead of the contract full term.

The domino effect of not having top rated golf facilities or church properties is not to be trivialized. A decision to terminate will result in job loss and a weakened rating among corporate hosts and sponsors such as the PGA, US Tennis Association and US Amateur Associations, who bring millions of dollars in revenue to our cities and county in support of local businesses at their events. Without this major attraction to both business and families, all economic development efforts will be diminished.

Letters of opposition to the plant closing have been received from the Mayor and City Council of Johns Creek, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and the various entities that will be directly affected by this decision, namely Perimeter Church, Johns Creek Methodist Church, the Atlanta Athletic Club, St. Ives, River Pines Golf Course, Country Club of the South, and the Standard Club. I appreciate the hundreds of emails from private citizens regarding this important and pivotal decision.

As a matter of record, I have been urging the County Manager to explore all options to keep the reuse facility in full operation until such time all matters have been thoroughly vetted and a comprehensive plan has been approved by all affected parties. It is my sincere hope that the Board of Commissioners will vote to continue to explore all options for continued use of reuse water in North Fulton by proceeding with the established public process as set forth by the North Georgia Metropolitan Water Planning District.

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Lizz Hausmann - Fulton County Commissioner