Water Authority losing patience
by Geoff Folsom
August 22, 2012 12:37 AM | 1228 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Members of the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority board continue to express frustration with their partners on a reservoir project.

Though they didn’t take any action, the board was told that the city of Canton’s refusal to approve a SCADA computer monitoring system for the new Hickory Log Creek Reservoir likely means that the system could not be installed in time for summer 2013. Water authority General Manager Glenn Page said that is when demand for water is highest, and the SCADA must be advertised for a month, go out for bid and then construction will take nine months.

There has also been no movement on building a reservoir manager’s office. Page said he asked for $25,000 to go into the reservoir’s upcoming budget for leased space for the manager to work out of. He said Canton would rather have a restroom built at the dam’s pump station, where a temporary office is set up, but its own inspector told it that the pump station isn’t suited for such an office.

“We now have nowhere for our reservoir operator to be housed,” Page said. “When we designed that building, there was a restroom in the original design and Canton asked us to take it out because it would be an unmanned facility. So it’s an unending circle.”

Page said he has discussed “concepts” with officials from Canton and the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority about a sale of Canton’s 25 percent share in the reservoir.

“Whether that be a two-way or three-way agreement, I’m not sure,” he said.

By the September board meeting, water authority attorney Doug Haynie said he hopes to either have a draft of a sales agreement of Canton’s shares or a plan for going to arbitration with Canton, which has sought a way out of the reservoir due to ballooning costs. Should the issues with Canton go to arbitration, which is the only legal recourse allowed in the water authority’s contract with the city, he expects it to take six months to a year before the issue is resolved.

Board member Earl Smith said the water authority is doing all the work in trying to resolve the issue.

“It seems like about the only thing that’s going on is something that we’re having to respond to,” Smith said. “We’re having to spend our time and dollars and effort to do that… When we ask for their help in something, we get nothing. I’m wondering when we’re going to take the position that they’ve got to meet us halfway.”

Not having a SCADA system means the reservoir would have to be operated manually with a worker on site. That could mean extra costs, since Page said the reservoir manager works a traditional business-hour schedule.

Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, located just north of the Etowah River near Canton, would serve as a backup to the water authority’s supply in Lake Allatoona, where it draws about half its water and pipes it to its water treatment plant in Acworth for customers in Cobb and Paulding counties.

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, the water authority board’s chairman, said he hopes the water authority hasn’t exhausted all its options with Canton.

“There’s bigger fish to fry than this, and we need to move on with the operations of the water authority,” Bacon said. “We’ve had the patience of Job.”

While the Army Corps of Engineers has yet to approve the water authority’s concept of storing water it releases from Hickory Log Creek Reservoir in Lake Allatoona, which the Corps operates, Page said that the reservoir is now operational and could be used if drought conditions warrant.

The meeting was Marietta City Councilman Grif Chalfant’s first on the water authority board. He replaced former Councilman Van Pearlberg, whose last meeting was in July.
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