Roswell Begins Process for New Water Treatment Plant
The city approved $550,000 toward conceptual planning at Monday's council meeting.
UPDATED: Friday, 3:02 p.m. - Roswell City Council amended the city's budget Monday night to approve $550,000 from the Water Fund reserves toward conceptual planning for a new Roswell Water Utility Treatment Plant on Dobbs Drive.
"The new plant will help in several ways," said Stuart Moring, director of Roswell's Public Works/Environmental department.
According to Moring there are three main benefits found in building a new water treatment plant. For instance, the cost of production per 1,000 gallons would be cut in half. Also, a higher 2.8 million gallons daily rate of production would allow the city to meet almost all the water supply demands from its customers, instead of having to supplement with water from other sources. And finally, by using water from Big Creek and other local groundwater sources, the city reduces its reliance on Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River, which is a state issued goal.
Moring told Roswell Patch the planned improvements will bring the city a projected $3 million in savings over five years, as well as result in a reduced operating cost over time.
"We have met jointly with our engineering and financial consultants and determined that [Georgia Environmental Finance Authority] loans are feasible and our most economical approach to financing this work," he said. "As cost estimates are refined, we will get a clearer picture of how much can be paid with 'cash' from savings and how much from loans or grants."
But those who oppose the project say the numbers don't add up.
A prior analysis of Roswell's water system by engineering consultants Gresham Smith & Partners said a new treatment plant would require between two and three percent annual adjustment to sustain and improve the system. Over the next 50 years a 2.5 percent increase in income would net $11 million, according to the study. That money would come out of local taxpayer pockets. (Clarification: Roswell Water Utility customers would pay the increase.)
But Moring contends the increase to customers will primarily cover the escalating costs of operation - also known as inflation. However, the money will also help to pay off the loans needed to build the plant.
And as great of a benefit to local residents as the new plant would be, costs are not completly negated by savings.
"The cost savings wrought by these improvements [to the system] will offset some of the inflationary increases, but not entirely so," said Moring.
Because the water utility is not at a place to present all of the necessary information to council, an increase to taxpayers is not something that's being considered at this point.
There are approximately 5,600 Roswell residents who get their water from the city, the rest receive water via Fulton County. The current plant was built in 1937. Today, upgrades allow it to produce 1.2 million gallons per day.