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Roswell Residents React to New Locations for Water Plant

Responding to public feedback, the city of Roswell proposed two new locations for a new water plant. In either scenario, the plant would still be in Waller Park, but would be separated from ball fields and houses.

Two new locations for a proposed water plant in Roswell were shown to the public Thursday night, June 14.

After hearing public feedback from two open house meetings in March, the city of Roswell changed the proposed location. In either scenario, the plant and water tank would still be in Waller Park, but would no longer back up to houses on Meadowood Drive. Instead, the two potential locations are:

  • Next to the current water plant, close to Big Creek. Once the new plant is built, the old one would be torn down and replaced by a ball field.
  • In the current parking lot of the Recreation & Parks Department, across the street from the ball fields. In this location, Dobbs Drive would be moved so that the plant is accessible. The road would separate the fields from the plant.

(See maps in the attached PDF)

Several residents said they liked the new locations better.

“It’s a vast improvement over what they were going to do,” said Laura Wiggins, who has lived on Meadowood Drive for more than 20 years. “The original option was going to back up to our neighborhood and look horrendous.”

She said she preferred a plan to keep the plant in its existing location because it’s farther from houses and ball fields. “It’s hidden and out of the way. It’s not so obvious. I don’t think it’s going to impact parkgoers or property values,” she said.

In previous plans, the new water plant and tank would have taken up a ball field next to Meadowood Drive. During meetings in March, many residents said they were opposed to the water tower, which could be 50 feet high, being in their backyard, said Roswell City Councilman Kent Igleheart.

Now, the tank will be in a more “industrial” part of the park and won’t affect the aesthetics of the ball fields or the adjacent neighborhoods, Igleheart said.

“Everybody can go through there without having to see the industrial part, and we think it makes the result really nice,” Igleheart said.

By building the plant across from ball fields, it would also open up an overlook to Big Creek – something that appeals to Roswell resident Richard Haskell.

“It opens up a scenic overlook possibility, and it’s in an area where there’s already industrial-looking space,” Haskell said.

A new water plant is needed for the city of Roswell because the current one is nearly 80 years old, is outdated and is in constant need of costly repairs, city officials say. City officials estimate they would save $11.6 million over 20 years by eliminating repair costs and providing Roswell’s own water, rather than buying water from Fulton County, which now costs about $500,000 a year.

To punctuate this point, Stu Moring, Director of Public Works, told Roswell residents who came to the meeting Thursday night that a valve stem just broke at the plant and will cost $40,000 to repair. Until it is fixed, the city is buying its water from Fulton County.

The proposed plant would cost $15.9 million and would be financed by a 20-year loan through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). Because the city has a good financial rating, it could secure a low-interest loan. Right now, that interest rate is at 2.13 percent, Councilman Igleheart said.

The city estimates that savings over 20 years will cover 75 to 80 percent of the loan. Additionally, a water rate increase of $1 per month is being considered for the city’s 14,500 residential and business customers, according to city officials.

Roswell resident Seth Freedman said he was more concerned with the cost of the project than the location.

“They don’t really know what their costs are going to be,” he said. “But I’m very glad to see they’ve responded to public comment.”

He said he supports an increase in clean water resources, though.

Several residents expressed concern about a potential new road shown on the maps that would go from Grimes Bridge Road to Oak Street, creating a cut-through for cars between Route 9 and Grimes Bridge Road.

But Councilman Igleheart said that road is not part of the water plant project, and has not been decided upon.

Public feedback on the new plans will now be presented to the Roswell City Council. If you want to give feedback on the proposed water plant, you can contact the city of Roswell. For more information, go to roswellgov.com/waterplant.

janet h russell June 15, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I attended the meeting and I asked why a third option was not offered? That option is for the City of Roswell get out of the water business. Currently there are 27,000 billing addresses in Roswell. 22,000 receive their water from Fulton County. The remaining address (primarily in the center of Roswell near SR9) get their water from Roswell. The projected cost of almost 16 million dollars whether financed at a low rate of interest or not, is a high cost to pay to provide water to less than 25% of Roswell. Currently, it costs approx. $85.00 per billing period to deliver water to one address. If you conserve water and don't use much, the city's costs don't go down. If Fulton County is good enough for 22,000 why isn't it good enough for the rest of us? I think Civic Ego is standing in the way of good judgement. Time for each city to stop thinking that they can just do it themselves. So it would have been nice for the Engineering/ Consulting / Water Dept to mention this third option to everyone who attended. It gave the false impression to those who have no knowledge of the facts I just mentioned that these are the only 2 choices. And I believe that only 1 City Council member actually receives his water from the City of Roswell. Even the City Administrator told me she gets her water from Fulton County.
Dan June 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I'm fairly new to Roswell so I don't know the history or reasons the city is in the water business. But I agree with janet. What's the benefit of having duel water sources? I've actually took the time to look for that answer a few months ago but my search came up empty. So can anyone explain the reasons and benefits in just a few key words?
Richard Arena June 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM
The mayor and city staffers give two primary reasons for the City of Roswell maintaining a separate water supply and filtration system - albeit one that serves a minority fraction of the city's residents and businesses. The first reason is: once the city is out of the water business it is prohibited from getting back in. I don't know for sure, but my guess is there are EPA regulations to that affect. The second reason is that the city's independent supply draws from Big Creek, which contributes to rather than draws from the Chattahoochee - meaning in times of drought the city has an alternate supply. Regarding the first reason - there could be circumstances wherein not being completely dependent on Fulton County for water would be advantageous. Though not said by city officials, one might imagine that FC could threaten to cut off Roswell's water supply should Milton County becomes a reality. Since Roswell's water system supplies roughly one quarter of the city, that's a plan that leaves the overwhelming majority without a contingency. As for providing a source of supply during times of drought, when examined, that too is a weak argument. Roswell engineers confirm that Big Creek is subject to the same laws of nature as the Hooch. The new plant is projected to have a 10MM gallon storage tank - a five day supply. There have been two droughts since the mid-90's lasting months, so its value in times of drought is very limited and in my opinion not worth $16MM.
janet h russell June 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Gentlemen, Thank you for your observations and thoughts on this issue. Most of the Roswell residents don't even know from whence comes their water. So of course, they ignore the issue because it is easier . I have been told that the additional charge will be $1.00 per billing cycle to each billing address who receive their water from the city. So $12.00 X 5700= $68,400 per year to pay down a debt of 15 million. That won't even cover the interest on this debt. If you believe this is the increase we will see, then I have some beachfront property in Tucson you might be interested in. This project originally was going to cost 8 million and it is now guestimated at 15million. Who wants to bet it will go even higher?
Jim W June 22, 2012 at 02:30 AM
If they do not build a plant and maintain independent supplies, Roswell is at the mercy of Fulton County to charge whatever rates they wish. Granted these are typically long term contracts with various limitations, still there are several municipalities across the state which are feuding with neighboring municipalities or water authorities who control the water rates of their own citizens.
Dan June 25, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Just seems to me that since we can't supply the whole city with water, it's not worth the cost and effort to be in the water business. But I suspect that there are LOTS of politics -- and pride -- at play here.

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