Cumming delivers water ultimatum to Forsyth

Cumming says it will pull the plug on Forsyth County's raw water supply if the two sides don't agree on a new water contract by Oct. 1.

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said at a City Council meeting Tuesday evening that the city would continue to supply the county with more expensive treated water after that date, but the price would go up. If no agreement is reached, it could mean Forsyth would pay triple what it paid last year for water to serve its 170,000 customers.

Gravitt said the city will still supply the county with all the water it needs.

Under the old contract, which expired in May, Forsyth paid 10 cents per 1,000 gallons for raw water and about $2.43 per 1,000 gallons for treated water. The city has continued to charge those rates since May.

Forsyth paid Cumming about $3.9 million last year for treated water and about $300,000 for raw water that it processes at its own plant, said Tim Perkins, the county's director of water and sewer.

Under the city's ultimatum, Forsyth would only be able to buy treated water at a cost of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons.

"It's outrageous," said Forsyth Commission Chairman Jim Boff, who attended Tuesday's meeting.

Cumming, one of four jurisdictions with access to Lake Lanier water, has supplied Forsyth for about 30 years. Forsyth officials have petitioned the state for access to its own water supply at Lanier or along the Chattahoochee River, but to no avail.

County officials said they thought they had worked out a contract in late May that kept the rate for raw water the same and lowered the price for treated water to $2.25. The county also agreed to pay $11.4 million for upgrades to the city's intake facility at Lake Lanier.

But neither side could agree on a price for raw water over and above the county's regular allocation of 16 million gallons a day.

County commissioners are expected to discuss the issue Tuesday.