Stephens Co. Offers Support for Water Proposal

After initial hesitation, Stephens County Commissioners offer a letter of support to a proposed multi-million dollar water project in northeast Georgia.

Madison and Elbert County officials are seeking money from the Governor’s Water Supply Program for water improvements in five northeast Georgia counties, Stephens, Franklin, Madison, Elbert, and Oglethorpe.

Chris Quigley from the consulting engineers on the proposed project, Peoples and Quigley of Sandy Springs, Georgia, appeared at Tuesday’s county commission meeting to talk about the project.

He said they are seeking $10 million to fund the project and interconnect water systems.

“It is to facilitate water supply within the five-county area,” said Quigley. “It does not require them to do anything, but it does give them the ability to sell and purchase water from each other.”

The application calls Toccoa’s excess water capacity an essential component of the project.

Initially, county commissioners voted 3 to 2 not to sign a letter of support and get more information on the project. Stanley London, Dennis Bell, and Debbie Whitlock voted not to sign, while Dean Scarborough and Harold Andrews voted in favor of support.

Bell said the information provided was vague and he wanted to know more about the project, especially if it would have any effect on Lake Hartwell.

After the vote, Toccoa Mayor David Austin arrived at the meeting and said the city had signed a letter of support.

Austin also noted that Toccoa pulls from Lake Yonah, not Hartwell. In addition, Austin said that the project would not mandate Toccoa to give water to other counties, but would give the city that opportunity if it so chose by interconnecting the systems.

After talking with Austin, county commissioners voted unanimously to sign the letter of support.