By Michael Cuneo
Fayette County will start to sell its water to neighboring Coweta County after officials voted in a split decision on Thursday.
The deal, which includes boring under Line Creek Nature Preserve in Peachtree City to run water lines to Coweta County, is said to utilize the surplus of water that Fayette County produces daily.
“[The deal] establishes a mechanism for us to establish a connection and then wholesale our surplus water to Coweta County,” Venessa Tigert, director of the Fayette County water system, said.
The intergovernmental agreement is set to run for five years and see a purchase rate of $2.67 for every 1,000 gallons of water. Fayette County will pay half of the project’s costs and will not exceed $425,000 in spending.
Tigert says that the county produces 10 million gallons of water on average each day but has the ability to make more at no additional cost.
“Our costs are the same whether we produce 2 million gallons a day or 20 million gallons a day. All the operational costs remain the same,” Tigert said.
The Fayette County Board of Commissioners were split on the issue, raising issues with the guarantees and stipulations within the deal’s wording.
Commissioner Charles Rousseau was concerned with the deal’s wording, questioning the financial guarantees that Fayette County would receive.
“There is no guaranteed language in this agreement as far as purchase. It’s not a ‘pay whether you take it or not,’ you only pay for what you take,” County Attorney Dennis Davenport said to a confused board.
Commissioner Eric Maxwell claimed that providing water to Coweta would promote development, which fellow board members quickly refuted.
“I just want to remind everybody that water doesn’t drive density. Sewer does.” Commissioner Edge Gibbons said.
Maxwell persisted, stating that he was trying to halt development outside of Fayette County. He ultimately voted against the deal.
Gibbons, however, was much more optimistic about the deal, stating that it was necessary to avoid extra spending.
“We’re either going to have to do this and sell water to Coweta, or we’re going to have to raise water rates for our own customers within the county,” he said.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of the deal, with Rousseau joining Maxwell in opposition.
The project has a capped budget of $425,000, but developers believe they can complete the boring and water line installation for around $390,000.