Cherokee water authority board members met with the Canton City Council last week to discuss the possibility of taking over the city’s water and sewer operations, as well as Canton’s 25 percent stake in the reservoir, which was built off the Etowah River as a backup water source. The Cobb-Marietta authority owns the remaining 75 percent of the project, which Canton has been seeking a way out of after construction costs ballooned from a $20 million projection in 2000 to nearly $100 million.
While Cobb Marietta Authority General Manager Glenn Page agreed with a report in the Cherokee Tribune that said taking over the reservoir received a “lukewarm” response from Cherokee water authority board members, Cobb Marietta board member Earl Smith said he was pleased to see any progress on behalf of Cherokee taking over the reservoir.
“To me, this is the first positive sign of anything,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, the Canton City Council didn’t approve the city’s share of a SCADA computer monitoring system at either of its meetings in the past month. While it isn’t on the agenda for the council’s Thursday meeting, Page said he is hopeful that City Manager Scott Wood will bring it up for a vote. But if Canton doesn’t pass an agreement for the system soon, which would allow operators at Cobb-Marietta’s Wyckoff Water Treatment Plant in Acworth to monitor the reservoir from 20 miles away, the partners may be forced to hire staff to monitor the reservoir on site full time.
Currently, the reservoir is overseen by one manager, who works during regular business hours. Page said that keeping employees there full time could cost an additional $200,000 to $250,000 a year. And Page said it wouldn’t be a position they could create and quickly eliminate should they reach an agreement on the SCADA.
“If you hire somebody, it’s not the type of person you hire temporarily, because they have to be a certified operator and skilled with equipment,” he said. “They have to be skilled with equipment and understand the environmental regulations and monitoring requirements to carry out the project.”
At Monday’s meeting, the Cobb water board unanimously approved paying $712,900 for to Pasadena, Calif.-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to perform engineering and construction inspection services on a project that will put in backup power generation systems for the Quarles Raw Water Pumping Station, which treats water from the Chattahoochee River for distribution to the Cobb-Marietta authority’s customers, including Cobb County and the cities of Marietta and Smyrna. Page said the entire project, including construction, is budgeted for $10 million, and will provide diesel or natural gas generators to produce around 40 million gallons per day, about half of the plant’s normal capacity.
Page said the project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, but he hopes to wrap it up earlier.
The board also said goodbye to former Marietta City Councilman Van Pearlberg, who was serving at his last meeting as board member. He resigned from the city council to run for a Superior Court judge position on July 31. The council voted last month to have Councilman Grif Chalfant replace Pearlberg on the water authority board for a four-year term.
“He’s been a good representative or the people of Marietta, always looking out for their best interests,” said Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, the water authority board’s chairman. “He’s been a team player with us, but also a team player with the citizens of Marietta.”