CUMMING, Ga. — The City of Cumming has deemed the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility unusable.
The privately owned wastewater treatment plant sits on about 10 acres and has been run for the past 30 years by a homeowners group known as the Habersham Action Committee.
But a fire last spring spurred the City Council to condemn the plant and build a new facility to service the neighborhood.
Since the condemnation attempt in April, Director of Utilities Jon Heard said the city worked to get an appraisal of the property to offer fair market value, obtain an accurate survey and evaluate its usefulness for the city to build its own treatment facility on the site.
But now, the council has rescinded that condemnation after Heard said the current piece of property is not optimal to build a future wastewater treatment plant.
The city is in the process of designing a new water reclamation facility to replace the failed Habersham sewer, but said it would cost roughly $10 million.
The new facility would cycle about 15 million gallons a day.
“There was no other land surrounding the 10 acres that was available that we could obtain or negotiate a purchase to create a total of 35-40 acres,” Heard said. “We need to continue to look for other sites for the future plant.”
The sewer on Buford Dam Road serviced about 400 homes including Habersham on Lanier, Habersham at Lanier, Townhouses at Lanier/Lanier Golf Club and Habersham-Lanier Pointe.
Both county and city officials say the old sewer plant had a life expectancy of 20 years, was in “bad condition,” and emptied into Lake Lanier.
After the fire in April, the city moved customers to its own sewer system. That caused a ruckus when residents were sent a letter May 17 stating that they would be billed $6,250 per household for the connection. The bill was originally due within 90 days.
That deadline was later extended, but as of Oct. 3, the city says 83 percent have either paid their fee in full or made an arrangement to pay monthly.
Heard said they intend to keep those customers and connect the “gravity lines” into the city system. Gravity lines are large networks of underground pipes that use gravity to move water from the homes to the city’s treatment plants.
“Many of the sewer lines in the Habersham community with multiple subdivisions are connected to a failing system,” Heard said. “The components of the sewer system are also failing and in disrepair. We believe the money we collected or will collect, close to $2 million, will be earmarked to improve the gravity system that’s now serving those customers.”
However, that $2 million isn’t enough to do all the work the city has planned, Heard said.
“It’s an appropriate amount and can be used for their good to improve their system,” Heard said. “They’ll have the assurance of ongoing, uninterrupted sewer service from here forward.”