Hall County is now in the reuse water business.
The Spout Springs Water Reclamation Facility has not yet had an opening ceremony but Hall County Public Works Director Ken Rearden said the facility is in "a soft startup mode."
The county spent about $126,000 on a system at the Spout Springs Water Reclamation Facility that treats sewage with a small amount of chlorine, allowing it to be used safely for irrigation.
"The water is processed to a degree," Rearden said. "We had to add a chlorine injection system."
Currently, the county is disposing of the waste water on a 120-acre spray field.
Rearden said this method is much more costly because the large field must be mowed three times a year.
"We’re having to spend money," he said. "It costs us $10,000 every time we cut that grass."
Recycling the water will not only be better for the environment but will become a source of revenue for the county.
Rearden said the county will sell the water for 85 cents per 1,000 gallons. The facility treats 140,000 gallons of sewage a day, meaning the county could see up to $3,500 a month in additional revenue.
Sterling on the Lake, the Spout Springs Library and the new schools on Spout Springs Road already have committed to buying recycled water from the county.
The vice president and general manager of Newland Communities — the developer for Sterling on the Lake — Patrick Clark said the neighborhood green spaces are ready for reused water.
"We anticipated using reuse water from the very beginning and had lines installed," he said.
"The conservation of water by resusing water — especially in a state like Georgia — is critical and very important," Clark said.
Rearden said the new high school has asked for 38,500 gallons of recycled water a day to irrigate its grounds and sports fields, a move that will save hundreds of dollars a day.
Using the same amount of potable water each day would cost $270. But Rearden said irrigating with reused water will bring the cost down to just $32.50 per day.
"The other thing about reuse water is it’s drought resistant," Rearden said, meaning the water does not fall under the same outdoor watering restrictions as potable water. "They’ll be able to have their neighborhood look plush and green. ..."
Rearden said there were many obstacles in completing the system, such as broken pipes.
"I thought we would have this thing close to the end of the year," Rearden said.
The reused water is currently only available to large consumers such as golf courses, schools and the three South Hall communities on the Hall County sewer system.
But individual users are not out of the question, Rearden said. Traditionally dry states like Florida, California and Arizona have used similar systems for years.
"Georgia’s behind on that," Rearden said.
New pipes would need to be dug in order for the reused water to go to individual users because it cannot go through the same pipes as potable water.
"You have a dual pipeline that has to be put in," Rearden said. "The (Environmental Protection Division) is going to start looking at these more favorably."