Water authority ponders buying all of reservoir
by Kim Isaza
newseditor@mdjonline.com
August 24, 2011 01:15 AM | 4015 views | 8 8 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hickory Log Creek Reservoir Dam Manager Cole Blackwell uses binoculars to check the border of the 400-acre reservoir on the lake side for trespassers.<br>Staff/File
Hickory Log Creek Reservoir Dam Manager Cole Blackwell uses binoculars to check the border of the 400-acre reservoir on the lake side for trespassers.
Staff/File
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MARIETTA — Leaders of the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority say they will consider buying out the City of Canton’s 25 percent stake in the new Hickory Log Creek Reservoir in north Canton. That would make the authority the sole owner of the 400-acre reservoir.

The authority is a wholesaler and sells water to retailers like the Cobb County Water System and the cities of Marietta and Smyrna.

In May 2000, the water authority and the city of Canton agreed to a 50-year partnership to build the pumped-storage reservoir, and the conceptual cost estimate was $20 million to build.

But that cost ballooned, in part, amid increasing land costs. The owners have spent about $5 million to buy mitigating properties to offset effects to wetlands, streams and endangered species by the project, said Glenn Page, general manager of the water authority.

“I expect that the entire project will be delivered under $100 million,” Page said. “Then, operational expenses are in the range of $750,000 per year.”

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, who chairs the water authority, said that despite the cost, the reservoir is “absolutely” needed.

“The bottom line is, we do have a reservoir, which is very difficult to get a permit on,” he said.

With Canton, Bacon said, “We’re interested in the point of we’d have discussions, but I think this is the first move they’ve made toward that. We’ll have to see what’s best for our customers.”

The project includes a dam built on the Etowah River that pumps river water to the reservoir. A small creek also feeds the reservoir.

“It’s managed like you do your banking,” Page said. “You keep most of your money that you need on a daily basis in a checking account, but if you’ve got some you’re setting aside for a rainy day — in our case, for a dry day — you put that in savings. The reservoir is our savings. We’re taking water out of the Etowah to save it for a dry day.”

But the reservoir’s purpose is also for future water supply — and the city of Canton wants to preserve that part of its deal.

Canton has proposed that the water authority take over full operations of the reservoir and assume Canton’s $28 million debt for its share in the project. But Canton apparently still wants the right to use 6 million gallons of water per day from the reservoir, once the Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on such withdrawals.

Page also said that while the reservoir’s cost has affected the rates it charges to the water retailers — which are ultimately passed along to citizens in Cobb and Paulding counties, the city of Marietta and Smyrna, and parts of Cherokee, Fulton and Douglas counties — it has not been any higher than other authority projects.

“The increase in cost of that project has affected our rates, but no more than other projects we’ve had to do to meet regulatory obligations,” Page said. “Right now, we’re doing improvements at our Acworth plant in the range of $100 million.”
Comments
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NECobb
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August 25, 2011
Why is the Army Corp of Engineers having to SIGN off on the withdrawals?!??! I understood one reason for building the reservoir and increasing our Cobb Water rates was to prevent the ACE from being involved in management of the Hickory Creek reservoir thus preventing the ACE from discharging desperately needed drinking water during drought periods for some Apalachicola mollusk downstream. I believe Cobb taxpayers deserve an explanation!
Busy Doc
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August 24, 2011
Sounds like a project that had help from the Cobb EMC board of directors.
FantasyWorld
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August 24, 2011
We definitely need the reservoir, but I agree with Cobb Taxpayer.

If there were no major scope changes in the project, how in the world can a project estimated to cost $20M increase to a cost of $100M without some major screwups?

Or as Slim Pickens said in Blazing Saddles: "What in the wide, wide world of sports is goin, on here!!!"

That's like starting to build a house that is estimated to cost $200,000 and end up paying $1,000,000.

Bob Bummer
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August 24, 2011
In their rush to complete the project they purchased land at inflated prices during the real estate boom.
Dustoff
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August 24, 2011
Buy out Canton's share then charge them wholesale rate plus 25% surcharge on every gallon they withdraw, or they cover their share as they agreed to.

And people Tim Lee has nothing to do with the operation of the Water Authority other than a seat on a board, he does not control it, get your facts straight.
Cobb Taxpayer
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August 24, 2011
How the heck can a budgeted 20M lake building project with no change is scope end up over 100M without major management shakeup, dismissals, suspensions and terminations ? Who is in charge of this operation ? Where is the accountability of the Board and senior management ? Is Dwight Brown involved ?
Poor But Proud
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August 24, 2011
Let me get this straight: Canton wants to be bought out but still retain all of its water withdrawal rights?

And the Authority would consider this why?

No wonder government is broke.
FROM TEXAS
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August 24, 2011
Buy it makes way more sense than light rail this can’t be replaced easily as good as gold. Why do you think a lot of Georgians’ are retiring to Tennessee water and a lot of it and no state income taxes? Take advantage of this don’t let that slip away; might be the only smart move of the Tim Bob sine getting in office.
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