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Lawrenceville gets approval to open wells

LAWRENCEVILLE - The exceptional drought in Georgia has made Lawrenceville's drive to reopen old city wells easier, Mayor Rex Millsaps said.

The city received preliminary approval to open three of 14 wells during a Thursday meeting with the state Environmental Protection Division, Millsaps said.

That will mean an additional 417,600 gallons of water will be available in about three months, which is about the length of time until water reserves may run out at Lake Lanier, officials have warned.

The city's plan to open the wells was not spurred by drought. Instead, officials began working on the plan in January, when a contract with the county to buy water at a wholesale rate expired.

Because of the mark-up needed for the city to maintain its water lines, city residents were forced to pay a higher water rate than county residents, Millsaps said.

Within a year, Millsaps hopes to have all of the wells that were closed in the 1970s reopened. That could provide 1.6 million gallons a day, or about 65 percent of the usage of Lawrenceville's 5,600 water customers.

"EPD's gotten a lot easier to deal with because of the drought," Millsaps said, adding that the city wells would help the city if water supplies do drop any lower. "We may not be able to bathe, but we can brush our teeth."