Water authority proposed for DeKalb’s water woes

A watershed authority could take over DeKalb County’s troubled water and sewer system, according to a state lawmaker’s proposal.

Rep. Taylor Bennett, D-Brookhaven, says he will introduce legislation to remove watershed functions from the county’s government and put them under new management.

DeKalb residents are protesting high water bills, some of which exceed $1,000 because of water meter and billing errors.

Meanwhile, the county's aging system is susceptible to sewage spills and capacity limitations. Upgrades are years behind schedule.

“DeKalb County’s water and sewage infrastructure has fallen into disrepair, jeopardizing the health of our citizens and the economic progress of our county,” Bennett said in a statement.

The county is under a federal court order to replace infrastructure and reduce spills, and Bennett said a water authority would help ensure compliance.

If approved by the Georgia General Assembly and voters, a water authority would gain control of about $423 million in annual watershed funds, representing nearly one-third of the county's $1.38 billion 2016 budget.

The water authority would be governed by appointees of elected officials from cities and the county, Bennett said.