Coweta says ‘no’ to Sharpsburg water request

The Town of Sharpsburg for some time has been talking about needing additional water lines into the municipality. To that end, Mayor Wendell Staley on Oct. 4 made a formal water service request to the Coweta County Water and Sewerage Authority (CCWSA) to install a water meter on Ga. Highway 16. It was a request that required action by the Coweta County Commission, a request that commissioners denied with little discussion.

The entire agenda item took only minutes and included a brief discussion by the parties involved. One of those was Turin Mayor Alan Starr who noted that Turin considers Sharpsburg to be a part of its service area. In noting Turin’s potential for serving the proposed 109-acre commercial and residential development along Ga. Highway 16 that was annexed into Sharpsburg last year, Starr said the development would not overload Turin’s water system nor would it put the system over capacity. Starr said that Turin has a contract with Sharpsburg until 2014, adding that such a contract might not be needed since Sharpsburg is in the Turin service area.

Staley in his comments to the commission said there is no signed contract with Turin to provide water. Staley in describing the current system said the county provides a 2-inch water line to Turin that is not sufficient. He described the Turin system as being one with old water lines where the water pressure and water quality “is not there.”

Starr from the audience disagreed with Staley’s assertion.

“If Turin’s system could be improved to include another well or tower that might be okay, but where’s the money to make that happen?” Staley asked. “Worst case, we want a 6-inch line from the county as a back-up.”

Stately noted that Sharpsburg’s desire to be served by county water does not mean that the town wants to totally forego water service from Turin. With Sharpsburg amounting to approximately two-thirds of Turin’s water sales, Staley said Wednesday that Sharpsburg citizens deserve some redundancy in the event of any type of failure with Turin’s system or in situations such as a drought.

Sharpsburg had previously submitted an application to CCWSA for the installation of a master meter on Hwy. 16. Subsequent to the application the town was told by CCWSA Director Ellis Cadenhead that the authority could not approve that application unless permission to do so is granted by the County Commission, according to an Oct. 3 letter by town attorney Jonathan Kendall.

Kendall’s letter referenced Cadenhead’s explanation that CCWSA had entered into an agreement with the county where CCWSA had given up a portion of its power to sell water. The Oct. 3 letter to commissioners noted three points Kendall said were relevant to the application. First was Kendall’s position that CCWSA is situated within the service delivery area and that the authority has an obligation to perform the service.

Kendall also maintained that the Georgia legislature in creating the authority gave it the power to sell water and did not give it the power to transfer that ability to the county or to have the county veto the authority’s ability to sell water.

“The town specifically provides the commission notice that any agreement which intends to restrict the authority’s ability to carry out its powers provided to the authority by Georgia law is highly suspect,” the letter said.

The third point in the letter deals with the town’s annexation last year of 109 acres on the south side of Hwy. 16 on which a residential and commercial development is to be located. To that end, the letter notes that the denial of the application,“would indicate a scheme to circumvent Georgia annexation laws.”

Prior to the vote to deny the request, county attorney Jerry Ann Conner in response to a question by Chairman Rodney Brooks about the intergovernmental agreement pertaining to water service said the agreement is valid and is not in violation of state law. Under the intergovernmental agreement the county must approve extending water services to annexed areas. Coweta commissioners two years ago denied a request in the same area that was annexed last year by Sharpsburg, though the area along Hwy. 16 at that time was approximately twice the size.

The unanimous vote followed the brief discussion, with Brooks saying he hated to put the county in the middle of a dispute between two parties without an agreement between them having been reached.

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