Reservoir Talks Hit Hurdle
In January, the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority hired a Pennsylvania consultant to evaluate the cost of the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir. The consultant says that task isn't as simple as it sounds.
Before the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority proceeds with an offer to take full ownership of Canton's Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, unresolved issues with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must be settled, a Pennsylvania consultant has told the agency.
"Decisions yet to be made by the Corps could limit the usefulness of the City's Entitlement Shares to the Authority and, in a worst case, could completely extinguish the value of the additional shares to the Authority," consultant Howard Woods wrote in a Feb. 22 letter to authority general manager Glenn Page. "A final determination of these issues should be obtained prior to any transfer of Entitlement shares."
Saddled with debt—much of it from the reservoir, which has taken years to build and run millions over budget—the Canton City Council spent much of 2011 discussing if it should sell its 25 percent stake in the reservoir.
Selling it would relieve the city of more than $28 million in debt, officials have estimated.
The endorsement came in the form of a non-binding memorandum of understanding that outlined what a possible merger would look like (see infobox at the bottom of this story for details). Cobb would take full ownership and operational responsibility of the reservoir. Cherokee would take ownership of Canton's treatment plants and provide water and sewer to the city.
The Cherokee water authority supported the framework during its Aug. 29 meeting. The Cobb-Marietta group, however, neither accepted nor rejected the offer during its Sept. 19 meeting, opting to take the offer under advisement, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In January, the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority hired Woods to determine the reservoir's value. In the Feb. 22 letter, Woods said he couldn't give the agency an answer.
"Because the Authority will withdraw water at a point significantly downstream and in a Corps reservoir (i.e., Lake Allatoona), the actual benefit to the Authority of any additional yield from Hickory Log Creek is uncertain," he wrote. "When the impact of the Corps operating rules at Lake Allatoona is determined, I will be a position to promptly issue a final draft report for your review. However, this is such an extremely important issue that I am not able to complete the evaluation without a resolution to this matter."
For the full text of Woods' letter, open the attached PDF.
NON-BINDING MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
According to the memo, this is the verbatim proposal on the table: