Well Water Quality
Wedgewood, Hearthstone neighbors express concerns
by Sarah Fay Campbell
A large number of residents from the Wedgewood and Hearthstone neighborhoods west of Newnan, attended an informational meeting regarding the possibility of connecting two neighboring towns to Coweta County’s public water system.
Wedgewood, Hearthstone and Pine Hill subdivisions are served by community well systems, but some residents are unhappy with the water and the service and hope to connect instead to the county's system.
Coweta County Commissioner Al Smith, present at the meeting held Thursday at the Clay-Wood Community Center, reported receiving complaints from residents and has looked into a solution. "The reason we are here … is because somebody complained," Smith said. "That is how things are done in the government … if there is no complaint there is no issue. We are here to make an offer to try to solve a problem that some people are experiencing."
A man who is currently residing in Hearthstone, was the first to speak. He’s a fairly new resident and indicated he doesn’t completely understand the problems. He had a test done on his water and “they said it was as good or better than the county or the city (of Newnan).”
The problems do seem to differ from house to house, Smith said. “Don’t think that your water service is consistent throughout all the neighborhoods.”
If the pump goes out or there is a line break, “whoever lives on the upside is fine,” said Carolyn Turner, a Wedgewood resident. “Once they turn the water back on, though, it is a rush of mud,” she said. “The nastiest stuff you have ever seen comes out of your pipes.”
Jay Boren, CEO of the Coweta Water and Sewerage Authority, said they looked into the issue and determined what it would take to serve the subdivisions.
Servicing Hearthstone would take 8,500 feet of pipe, with a cost of about $295,000. Wedgewood would take 6,100 feet of pipe at $229,000, and Pine Hill would need 4,550 feet for $139,000.
Typically, when a new subdivision is built, the developer takes care of running all the water mains and service lines, and connects to the authority’s main at the subdivision entrance. “We’re not in the business of putting in infrastructure,” Boren said.
However, Boren said the project would be feasible with each person who taps on paying $1,000 in addition to the standard $1,000 tap fee. The $2,000 fee can be spread out over 36 months. Typically, the tap fee can be spread out over 19 months, Boren said.
But the authority will only be able to move forward with the project if at least 80 percent of the homes in each subdivision connects to the system.
Homeowners would be responsible for their own service lines, which go from the meter to the house. If the current service lines are in decent shape, they may be used. They’ll also need a pressure regulator, if they don’t already have one.
Boren said that the offer will stand for the foreseeable future, so even if it takes a few years to get the 80 percent commitment, the price shouldn’t change, and anyone who connects years later will still be responsible for the $2,000 fee.
Once everything is ready to go, actual construction will only take about a month, said Rusty Russell, head of water distribution.
A big question is what will happen to the community water system if most of the residents sign on to county water.
“There could be issues with that because there might not be enough revenue” for the system operator to continue operating it, Boren said. There could also be water quality issues if there isn’t enough turnover.
“We’re not trying to take anyone’s business,” Boren said.
The operator did send residents a bill offering to start metering the water, which might improve things, and warning people about high bills if they switch and then get a leak.
All residents are currently charged the same rate, regardless of how much water they use.
Oliver Wood said that when he bought his home in 1993 the bill was $25. Now, it’s $44. “I don’t use $44 worth of water a month. Nobody else does either,” Wood said. Wood said he’d like to have some car washes at his home “so I can recoup some of this $44.”
Wood said he moved out and rented his house for years because of the water problem. He’d have to take his white clothes to a commercial laundry because of the muddy water.
The renters didn’t always pay the water bill, he said. When he moved back in, he was asked to pay a new deposit.
Many people said that they don’t drink the water.
Boren asked everyone to get together after the meeting and designate one or two people per neighborhood to help coordinate getting people to commit to sign up.
Mary Blackmon is one of the point people for Hearthstone. She thinks she’ll be able to get at least 50 percent of her neighbors to sign up, but she’s not sure about 80 percent.
“Homeowners have to look for the benefit in the long run,” she said.
One issue that concerns the homeowners is that many of the homes in Hearthstone and Wedgewood are rentals. The homeowner would have to be the one to commit to the additional cost.