Toccoa Commission Expresses Concern About Proposed Water Project

Some Toccoa City Commissioners are expressing concern about a proposed multi-million dollar project to interconnect water systems 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.

According to officials, they are seeking $10 million to fund the project and interconnect water systems in those areas.

Last month, Stephens County Commissioners signed a letter of support for the project, but only after Toccoa Mayor David Austin told county commissioners the city had signed a letter of support.

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

City Commissioner Gail Fry asked about the project at a work session earlier this month.

She said she did not know anything about it and is concerned that such a project will lead to Toccoa’s water ending up elsewhere without the city’s consent.

“If they are going to spend $10 million to send the infrastructure in and it is coming from the state, you best believe they will get our water,” said Fry.

Chris Quigley from the consulting engineers on the proposed project, Peoples and Quigley of Sandy Springs, Georgia told county commissioners last month that it would not require anybody to do anything, only give systems the ability to sell and purchase from each other if they chose.

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson said he received the same assurances.

Jackson said he asked the question and he was told “absolutely not.”

“It does not mean that someone can come and take our water,” said Jackson, referring to what he was told.

Other commissioners also expressed concern that the mayor signed the letter of support without bringing it before the whole commission.