Lawrenceville moves forward on emergency well-water planning

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Lawrenceville City Council voted Monday to proceed with purchasing water tanks, pumps and other equipment to implement an emergency plan to distribute water from wells in response to the severe drought in Georgia.

The cost of equipment and electrical work required to operate the pumps is estimated at $111,544. The council authorized the utilities department to seek bids. Electrical work would be done by the city.

Lawrenceville buys about 2.5 million gallons of water a day from Gwinnett County, which obtains water from Lake Lanier. The city wants to reduce its dependency on Gwinnett Country for water, and the well water is cheaper to produce.

The council in November approved a 5 percent water rate increase for city customers effective in December as a result of Gwinnett County raising the rate it charges the city.

Councilman Mike Crow presented the plan to the council at its Nov. 12 meeting. The council discussed the plan at its Nov. 21 work session, and it is being adjusted.

"I commend Councilman Crow and the city department heads who have worked to come up with the emergency water plan," said Mayor Rex Millsaps. "I hope and pray that we never have to use it, but at least we'll be prepared."

Under the plan, Lawrenceville would use pick-up mounted 200- and 300-gallon water tanks and larger 1,000-gallon tanks mounted on utility trailers and dump trucks to distribute water to grocery store and school parking lots, subdivisions and other sites so residents could fill 1-gallon jugs.

Initially the city plans to buy one 200-gallon tank costing $215 and one 1,065-gallon tank costing $1,078 to be mounted on the trucks and/or trailers as a prototype, according to Crow. Additional tanks would be purchased later if needed.

The council also authorized purchasing four well pumps estimated at $20,000 each. The pumps are part of the emergency plan but also are required to implement the city's groundwater program, Crow said.

The portable tanks would be filled from the Rhodes Jordan well, opened by the city in the late 1990s, and eventually from other wells on Johnson Road, Winer Industrial Way, Maltbie Industrial Boulevard, Pike Street, and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

If necessary, the plan also includes possibly arranging and adjusting valves to pump water from the Rhodes Jordan Plant into the city's 1 million-gallon water storage tank on Oak Street and then to Central Gwinnett High School. Additionally, water could be pumped to Hooper Renwick Elementary School. Both schools would serve as distribution sites.

Mayor Millsaps said Lawrenceville had reduced its water consumption by 22.22 percent in response to a directive from Gov. Sonny Perdue to reduce water use by 10 percent. Millsaps said he and members of the City Council had also decreased their personal household water use.