LAWRENCEVILLE - Next week Lawrenceville will tap into a liquid treasure that flows beneath the city's streets and subdivisions.
However, the limited resource that will be pumped to the surface isn't oil. It's groundwater that will be piped to a treatment plant and on to thousands of homes and businesses.
"It's an exciting thing that we can get water from the ground because that's unusual in north Georgia," city Water Superintendent Mike Bowie said. "The amount we can get will be
The city already has two wells at Rhodes Jordan Park that provide 144,000 gallons of water per day, but a new one that will be activated next week near Ezzard Street will more than double that amount, giving the city 432,000 gallons of water per day.
The additional well water is significant because it will let Lawrenceville rely less on the county for water.
The county draws its water supply from Lake Lanier and, besides serving its water customers, it also sells some of what it takes from the lake to Lawrenceville at a wholesale rate.
Lawrenceville then turns around and sells the water to its residents.
There has been talk by city officials of reducing the rate it charges its water customers.
"With the wells we can cut our price down on the county and save money and we can sell our water cheaper," Mayor Bobby Sikes said.
The city will never be able to completely wean itself from county water, especially since the city's demand will continue to increase as it adds new businesses and residents, Bowie said.
However, it will be able to greatly reduce its reliance on the county.
Residents and businesses in the city consume between 1.7 million and 2 million gallons of water daily. Future wells the city will add to its system will deliver around 1.7 million gallons of water from below ground.
In roughly two years the city will add six more wells along Johnson Road, and when additional phases wrap up, a total of 10 wells will be drawing subsurface water from a rock formation beneath the city.
City wells date back to 1912, when Lawrenceville sunk its first one at Rhodes Jordan Park. However, the wells were deactivated in the '70s after iron in the water began turning sinks orange and staining laundry.
In 1994 the city decided to restart the wells to supplement its water supply during the summer months when thirsty lawns and dirty cars cause water demand to spike.
With help from the United State Geological Survey, the city mapped out rock formations hundreds of feet below the ground and explored them for water.
In 2000 an engineering firm was hired to locate the best spots for new wells, and the city is now starting to install infrastructure that will get the water from the wells to its water treatment plant.
To accommodate the increase in well water, the city also intends to build a second treatment plant for almost $4 million. It is asking the state to help finance the project.