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After four months of operation, Hall County’s reuse water system is more popular than anyone expected.
Public Works Director Ken Rearden told the Hall County Board of Commissioners at its work session this week that the system is now selling more treated water than the amount of sewage it is taking in.
On average, the facility processes an average of 170,000 gallons of sewage each day, Rearden said.
"We are selling between 125,000 and 200,000 gallons a day," Rearden said. "It’s actually more than we thought at this point in time."
The facility offers water at much cheaper rates than potable water by treating sewage with a small amount of chlorine, allowing it to be used safely for irrigation.
Currently, the water is available to large volume water-users. It is not available to homeowners.
Sterling on the Lake, the Spout Springs Library and Flowery Branch High School are now buying recycled water from the county for irrigation.
The rate for the treated wastewater is 85 cents per thousand gallons, compared with potable water, which can cost up to $6 per thousand gallons in the city of Gainesville.
"We’re making a little more than $4,000 a month," Rearden said.
Before the system was installed, Hall County was losing money on sewage.
Wastewater was disposed of on spray fields, which needed to be mowed and maintained. "They’re just sitting out there," Rearden said. "We don’t have to mow them."
Rearden said he has received many calls from people asking to hook up to the system, including the golf course in the Reunion subdivision.
"I just don’t have the water to sell them," Rearden said.
There are plans to expand, however. A retention pond is in place that will hold wastewater that is not bought.
Rearden said during the winter or when it rains, demand for the treated water will drop.
"We have a large storage pond out there that holds probably 70 million gallons," Rearden said.
Some Sterling on the Lake homeowners have contacted Rearden about using the reuse water for their personal landscaping.
Rearden said the system is not ready at this time to serve individuals, but could in the future.
"We’re not there yet," Rearden said. "It’s just a matter of getting the water that’s available for that and the staff to manage the meters and billing and all of that stuff. I’m thinking probably in a year or two we would be able to do that."
A reuse water system could also be in the works for North Hall as development heads to the Hwy. 365 corridor during the next few years.
"If we want to conserve water and have a beautiful landscape, this is the ticket," Rearden said.