Everything is moving along nicely for the joint water venture for Elbert and surrounding counties.
Back on April 30th, a grant application was submitted to the state to get funding for the counties to hook up water systems.
The effort involves Elbert, Oglethorpe, Franklin, and Madison counties, as well as the city of Elberton.
Elbert County Administrator Bob Thomas said that Elbert County’s need for water will always take priority over any other obligation.
“I want to emphasize that the priority is Elbert County, we are not trying to take our water and arbitrarily sell it to anybody else”, said Thomas. “If and when the time comes we have enough economic development or population growth, then that water will be used for this county.”
That priority will be set up through contracts laid out between the different governing bodies.
Recently, the city of Toccoa, who initially provided a letter of support for the project, revoked that letter due to blow back from the city’s commissioners.
Thomas said the withdrawal of that letter of support should not have an impact on the grant application process.
“I don’t think it will have any effect whatsoever because we do not have any connection, and were not going to make any connection with them in Stephens County anyway”, said Thomas. “So I don’t think it will have any effect as far as our grant application goes.”
Whether or not the grant application is approved will be revealed in August, and Thomas said if that happens, the first step is to improve the treatment facilities in the city of Elberton.
“Chances are the first phase is going to be the expansion of the treatment facility in Elberton, since you can’t pull it out without treating it, so that seems like the logical process to go through”, said Thomas.
Currently the city of Elberton is permitted to pump nearly seven million gallons of water from Lake Russell a day, but currently only pumps about two and a half million gallons a day.
If the intergovernmental project moves forward, it would be that excess amount of water that is used.