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County to consider water fines

LAWRENCEVILLE - Water wasters will be hit with fines and surcharges if commissioners pass a proposed conservation resolution Tuesday.

The plan includes a fine of up to $1,000 for repeat violators of the county's outdoor water use ban, bills at twice the water rate for large water users who do not reduce usage by 10 percent and a rebate of up to $100 per toilet for customers who replace their fixtures with low-flow commodes.

It also cuts the time landscapers will be allowed to water plants and bans car washing, unless the location uses a water-recycling system, and pressure washing.

Commissioner Lorraine Green, an environmental engineer by trade, worked with county staff to devise the proposal.

She said she has seen many county residents do their best to conserve since an exceptional drought drained lakes and caused the governor to call upon people to drop their usage by 10 percent.

"We are trying to do whatever we can to engage people to solve this problem. It's not just homeowners. It's not just business. It's everybody." Green said. "There's always some stragglers. Sometimes you have to hit people in the pocketbook to make them do the right thing. I think now, people will be bothered."

Chairman Charles Bannister said he hasn't seen Green's proposal but knew a water conservation plan was in the works. "We need to work toward something there," he said.

This proposal, Green said, is only a short-term solution to the problem. She wants to set up a task force to reach more long-term approaches to ensure the county's water supply is safeguarded.

Also Tuesday, commissioners will consider a $26 million proposal to build a pipeline from the F. Wayne Hill sewage plant to Lake Lanier.

When the pipeline is completed in the next few years, Gwinnett will be the first to send treated wastewater to the lake, which is where county residents' drinking water comes from.

"It's our good stewardship to return it back from where we took it," said Water Resources Acting Director Lynn Smarr.

Three miles of the eight-mile pipeline are already complete. Smarr said a separate contract is in the works for the portion of the pipe that will travel under Lake Lanier.

"Gwinnett County's in good shape," as far as water supply goes, she said. "But we need to put all our efforts into conserving water."