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Roswell drilling to expand water supply

Digging 2 new wells

Roswell Director of Public Works Stuart Moring tests the water at one of the new wells near the intersection of Willeo Road and Ga. 120. The new wells should expand Roswells water supply by as much as 350,000 gallons of water a day. JONATHAN COPSEY/staff. (click for larger version)

An independent study commissioned by Roswell suggests at least a 2 percent annual increase in water fees will be required if Roswell wishes to remain financially viable in the water business. SPECIAL. (click for larger version)
February 28, 2012
ROSWELL, Ga. While Roswell residents will likely not notice any change in their water, the city is expanding capacity by adding two new wells to its system.

Roswell Director of Public Works Stuart Moring said Roswell currently provides about 1.2 million gallons of water per day to roughly 5,600 customers, mostly in West Roswell. The new wells will provide a 25 percent increase, or about 350,000 gallons per day.

A water line will need to be built along Willeo Road between Ga. 120 and Azalea Road to connect the larger well behind the Inverness neighborhood to the smaller well across the street, where a water treatment building will be built around the wellhead.

The wells are expected to come online by the end of the year.

Moring said the wells tap into an artesian aquifer. While the city does not know how much water the aquifer contains, they do not expect to pump full-time. The water in this aquifer likely comes from the Appalachian Mountains in the north and provides a secondary source of water for the city.

As the water pumps operate, care will be taken to watch how quickly the water levels in this aquifer drop a quick drop would mean the aquifer is not very big.

"We expect to pump about 15 days at a time and let [the well] recharge," he said. "But we're pretty confident we'll be able to pump more than 50 percent of the time."

The location at Willeo and Ga. 120 was chosen by surveyors as a site for a possible well both because it had high chances of hitting water and because the city already owns the property and it is vacant.

The impetus for the city to drill for well water came during the severe drought several years ago that strained state water resources. Gov. Sonny Perdue urged governments to seek alternate water sources.

"When the drought was really going in 2008, Gov. Perdue wanted to promote alternative water supplies, including using ground water," Moring said. "We don't know exactly where it comes from. We know we are not taking away from the flow of the Chattahoochee River to supply customers."

He added the new wells reduce the city's reliance on water from the river and Lake Lanier. The city's major source of water is Big Creek, which feeds into the Chattahoochee.

While most Roswell residents get their water from Fulton County, a large percentage of those in West Roswell are on city taps. When the need for water outstrips its ability to supply, usually in the summer months, Moring said the city pays Fulton County for that extra water to the tune of about $2.25 per thousand gallons. By pumping more of its own water, the city could provide the water for about 50 cents per thousand gallons.

Despite these savings, independent consultants Gresham Smith and Partners performed a study in 2010 on the financial viability of Roswell's water supply. They determined that an increase of fees is necessary if Roswell wants to at least break even in future years.

"A policy of annual 2.5 to 3.0 percent annual adjustments provides a positive net income necessary to fund needed capital and improvements to sustain the system, improve reliability and provide for growth," the report says.

Moring said the increases in cost to users are necessary to keep the system running, and that were it not for the new wells, the city would be forced to dip into Fulton County more as usage increases. Ultimately, that will cost ratepayers more. The new wells help mitigate that. Moring said a large part of the costs comes from inflation and employee costs.

This report projects revenue and expenses into 2060.

"This is part of a general strategy to broaden our capability," Moring said. "[The wells are] a good alternative."

"This is the only reasonable course of action, if we want to stay in the water business," said Mayor Jere Wood.

"If we get out of the water business, we are at the mercy of other folks, and my goal is to never be at the mercy of Fulton County when I don't have to," he said.

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Tags: Community & Outreach

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    Roswell's Watch Dog
    March 02, 2012 | 10:24 PM

    More mixed messages - some accurate some not so.

    According to the Army Corp of Engineers, spearheading the water well development for the City of Roswell in their “DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT GROUNDWATER WELL AND TREATMENT FACILITY PROJECT” provided on behalf of the City of Roswell, included the following excerpt related to the prospects of developing well water production to augment the Dobbs street plant;

    Section 6.13.1. “The proposed project would withdraw an estimated 0.17 MGD (170,000 gallons per day) from the crystalline rock aquifer. Results of a Yield and Quality Test of RWL-1C showed that withdrawal rates will need to be managed carefully to optimize the long term production of water. It is also recommended that the well not be pumped for more than 10-14 consecutive days prior to allowing a sufficient period for aquifer recovery.”

    The new wells simply will NOT provide an additional 25% as stated in this article.

    The entire report is at: *

    As for the statement that the engineering consultants Gresham Smith & Partners stated in their June 2010 analysis that “A policy of an ANNUAL 2.5 to 3.0” adjustment in water rates will be needed is factual. The graph presented is from the consultants analysis pressented the the City in June of 2010.

    Yet at last Monday's night's Council work session on the proposed water plant that same firm changed its story and that sends mixed messages that need to be resolved.

    Now that firm insist that a flat $1.00 per month which will only generate $1.4 million over the 20 year life of the loan is all that is required to pay for the $14.5 million loan " is nonsensical.

    The only logical conclusion one can drew from this obvious change is that Gresham Smith & Partners, figures simply do not add up, unless the city is planning on loaning money to itself and paying for it out of the General Fund.

    What that could very well mean is that the proposed water plant is not going to be self-funded from the Water Enterprise Fund as required, but is going to be paid for by adding to taxpayer’s debt and if that is the case, Mr. Moring needs to address that issue on March 19th during public hearings on the proposed water plant.

    • Note: * This site contains all Army Corp reports and you will have to scroll down about ¼ of the way to locate this report in question.

    Lee Fleck

    Lee Fleck
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