Water Authority looking to build customer base

by Sarah Fay Campbell

The bond issuance that is being finalized will help the Coweta County Water and Sewerage Authority’s finances by significantly reducing debt service payments from 2016 to 2020, but the authority is still going to need some new customers in the next several years.

The new debt structure "allows for growth to occur," said Jay Boren, authority CEO.

"The original debt structure would not have been a problem had we had the growth" that was expected, said Chairman Neal Shepard. Coweta County made plans for the future with the new B.T. Brown Water Treatment Plant, expansion of the Shenandoah Wastewater Treatment Plant, and water purchase contracts with Griffin and the city of Newnan based on predictions of rapid growth.

But the housing market crashed and "we actually lost" customers due to foreclosures and shutoffs, Shepard said.

The $13.35 million bond issuance, which will be finalized on Sept. 17, "allows us to grow into that debt requirement," said Authority Member Eric Smith.

Moving forward, "future growth is needed," Boren said. "Our system is underutilized."

The B.T. Brown Water Plant is barely used at all. In the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, average utilization was just 1.5 percent of capacity.

The 3 million gallons per day that the authority is contractually obligated to buy from Griffin and Newnan Utilities is actually more than the authority sells to its customers, said CFO Andrew Caldwell. And that's with a major change to the Griffin contract that reduced the amount of water the authority has to buy.

However, as about 12 percent of the water that flows through the system is lost for various reasons, the authority doesn't usually have to buy more than it uses.

The wastewater treatment plant is only at 38 percent utilization.

That's going to have to change in the future, "to maintain the current water and sewer rate structures we have in place," Boren said.

"How do you suggest increasing utilization of our assets?" asked Smith.

Boren said, to keep rates from going up, they'll need to see approximately 5 percent growth a year, moving forward.

Even though the authority currently has more water and sewer capacity than it needs, "the beauty of this is the investment that we've got is in a plant that is really adequate for any future growth," Shepard said.

"So many municipalities are scrambling to catch up with the growth," said Smith. "We're ahead of the curve at this point."

"I think it's a good place to be," said Authority Member Mary Ann Sullivan. "Where you don't have to scramble and do the best you can."



More Local

Dual enrollment saves GA students college debt

Not only do dual enrollment courses allow high school students to earn college credit early, but those higher-level courses also increase gr ... Read More


CEC students take home most awards in Emmy competition

Students from Central Educational Center garnered the top number of awards – four – of any school with competitors in the 2015 H ... Read More


Natalie Bacho to speak at prayer event Thursday

The National Day of Prayer is Thursday, and events in observance of the day are scheduled in Newnan and Grantville. The theme for 2015 is &l ... Read More


Coweta Commission

CCFD personnel decisions on Tuesday agenda

Action regarding personnel issues at the Coweta County Fire Department is expected to be taken at Tuesday’s meeting of the Coweta Coun ... Read More


NTH Turns 150

1943: Governor Ellis Arnall helping create new Georgia

By Clay Neely clay@newnan.com Less than a year after taking his oath of office, Governor Ellis Arnall had wasted no time. Long regarded as o ... Read More

Great-grandson of Gov. Atkinson to be memorialized

A memorial service for Roswell James Atkinson, retired Meriwether County banker and great-grandson of Gov. William Yates Atkinson, will held ... Read More