County to make reuse water more available to businesses

LAWRENCEVILLE - It doesn't help the homeowner wanting to water his vegetable garden, but the expansion of a water reclamation service in the county means more streets and sewers can be cleaned.

Reuse water - treated wastewater that would ordinarily be discharged down the Chattahoochee River - is now available to professionals who can use it for street sweeping, dust control, sewer cleaning, landscape irrigation, chemical and pesticide applications and for concrete batch plants.

Conrad Gelot, the director for infrastructure systems for the Department of Water Resources, said about 209 million gallons of the water went toward irrigating county parks and golf courses in 2007. More than 350 million gallons are expected to be used this year, much of it for irrigation by the Mall of Georgia.

A number of people have called to ask about the service, said Irish Horsey, the county's reclaimed water manager. But only 10 to 15 of the inquiries are people who might qualify for the service.

To qualify, users must complete online training, pass a truck inspection by staff at the Department of Water Resources for a $25 annual fee, apply for trucking service and receive a permit and certification card for a $100 annual fee.

Residents would not be able to meet the restrictions, but Gelot said the change could help landscapers or other businesses who need water to continue working during the drought.

"Some businesses need reuse water to survive," he said.

The water costs the county 75 cents per 1,000 gallons to process and is therefore free to users, Horsey said. She said if demand increases, the county may consider charging for the water - now, it would cost more to employ someone to keep track of the water sold than what the water would bring in.

The county releases 18 million gallons of water into the Chattahoochee daily. Eventually, that water will go into Lake Lanier via a pipeline that is under construction.

For information about the water program, call Horsey at 678-376-6737 or e-mail irish.horsey@gwinnettcounty.com.