Elbert Co. Official Says Water Project Grant Application Still Moving Forward

An Elbert County official said recently that the withdrawal of support by Stephens County Commissioners and Toccoa City Commissioners should not affect an application for grant funds for a multi-million dollar water project.

Madison and Elbert County officials want $10 million in state grant funds from the Governor’s Water Supply Program to interconnect water systems in five northeast Georgia counties, Stephens, Franklin, Madison, Elbert, and Oglethorpe.

Last month, both the Stephens County and Toccoa City Commissions revoked letters of support for the grant project after expressing concerns about how the project was presented and what the implications of interconnecting all of the systems would be.

Elbert County Administrator Bob Thomas told our sister station in Elberton last week that the withdrawal of those letters of support should not have an impact on the grant application process.

“I don’t think it will have any effect whatsoever because we do not have any connection, and were not going to make any connection with them in Stephens County anyway”, said Thomas. “So I don’t think it will have any effect as far as our grant application goes.”

Information associated with the grant application called Toccoa’s excess water capacity a key part of the project. Currently, city officials have stated Toccoa is permitted by the state to use nine million gallons of water a day and is currently using three million gallons a day.

In rescinding support, multiple local officials expressed concerns that this project would send Toccoa’s water south to other counties to use for their economic development, rather than making sure it was available to provide for growth in Toccoa.

An engineer working on the project told commissioners for both Toccoa and Stephens County that the city would not be forced to sell water to anyone that it did not want to sell water to.

Reports indicated that officials would find out whether the grant application is approved in August.

(David Stephens, WSGC Radio, Elberton contributed to this report)