Lawrenceville opens new well
City hopes to gain independence from county

LAWRENCEVILLE - It wasn't just the cold, clear liquid that refreshed the Lawrenceville City Council on Friday morning; it was that the well water means the freedom to provide the city's own water to its resident.

Councilman Mike Crow turned on a pump for the first of 12 wells the city hopes to activate in the next year.

"It may not look like much, but this one well is about 5 percent of the city's capacity," Crow said. "It's better quality water than we would get out of Lake Lanier. ... The best part is the cost savings."

Officials spent about $50,000 for a small treatment shed to mask iron and manganese in the water.

Mayor Rex Millsaps said the proceeds from water sales would pay for that within 100 days.

In the 1970s, the city shut off its well system to help the county leverage bonds to begin its own water system based on Lake Lanier.

But the county now charges the city $3.66 per 1,000 gallons of water, the same as any homeowner in the unincorporated county, but the city still has to pay for repairs in its water lines, billing and reading the meters. It has to charge $4.38 per 1,000 gallons for homeowners and $5.26 per 1,000 gallons for businesses.

"It's unfair," said former Councilman Mahlon Burson, who has pushed the opening of the wells for 10 years. "Thank God, it's running today."

The water at the Winer Industrial Way well costs about 70 cents to produce, and Millsaps said it will off-set the county costs now. Eventually, he said, a goal is to reduce the city water rates.

The city reactivated a well at Rhodes Jordan Park years ago, and Water Superintendent Mike Bowie said the city has the potential in the dozen wells dug during the 1990s to produce the 1.7 million gallons a day its 7,000 water customers use.

Land has been cleared at the Winer Industrial Way location for a treatment plant to service up to five wells in the area.