The Cobb County Water System was, once again, certified as AAA by the three major bond rating houses. It was one of only a handful of independently-funded agencies in the United States with this recognition.
For Fiscal Year 2011, the agency’s revenues from the sale of water and wastewater services exceeded budgeted inputs by about $2.7 million, although a portion of this was offset by reductions in system development fees. On the expense side, the agency achieved savings of approximately $4.2 million compared to the adopted budget.
The South Cobb Tunnel project proceeds within budget and is now projected to be completed about 12 months ahead of schedule. The excavation of the 27-foot diameter entry tunnel, varying in depth between 150 and 400 feet, was completed in March. The lining process is well underway. The tunnel is anticipated to become operational during the summer of 2013.
The upgrade of the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility is intended to allow that facility to continue to meet more restrictive discharge requirements. Work includes the provision of final filters and an additional secondary clarifier, as well as improvements to the control system. The project is substantially complete with close-out expected in early 2012.
Chastain Meadows Regional Detention Facility became fully operational in July 2011. This project is intended to lessen the effects of storms on downstream properties along Noonday Creek by reducing channel degradation and flooding frequency. The facility is a 600 acre-foot floodwater storage area surrounded by a 28 foot high, 1,100 foot long earthen embankment dam in north-central Cobb.
After the historic flood in September 2009, water system staff set goals of identifying damage and working closely with FEMA staff to provide appropriate documentation for each project and obtain reimbursement. This is an ongoing effort made more difficult by reductions in federal and state funding. To date, Cobb has been able to assist homeowners in qualifying 84 damaged residences for assistance.
In the area of public education and outreach, the Watershed Stewardship Program in conjunction with the Stormwater Division created the video series “Eco-Logical…Tips to Reduce Your Footprint” featuring various pollution prevention topics to help improve water quality throughout Cobb County and surrounding watersheds. This series helps residents become more aware of how their actions could impact water quality and presents simple ways to reduce their ecological footprint. The “Eco-Logical” video series topics cover: pets, FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease), storm drains, outdoor landscapes, indoor chemical use, rain gardens, local and organic foods, detention ponds and illegal dumping/easements.
Staff also worked with other jurisdictions to provide insight on successfully managing a utility program, including overall watershed stewardship, environmental compliance, water efficiency, stormwater management and flood control measures.
In addition, the Watershed Stewardship Program had more than 8,100 participants, almost 4,000 volunteer service hours and more than 800 training and programming hours. The Water Efficiency Program has reached more than 9,300 students and 3,000 adults with direct education programs.
In an effort to approve convenience, Cobb Water System now offers the option of electronic billing to all customers. The county saves money by reducing printing and mailing charges. Electronic billing also helps preserve natural resources and is consistent with the county’s environmentally-friendly efforts.
The incorporation of radio read technology with large commercial meters was implemented and has produced cost savings and improved safety and efficiency. Previously, reading large commercial meters took six days. Using the new technology, reading them can be completed in about 12 hours.
Cobb County was honored as national 2011 WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year (Large Utility) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This award was in recognition of its extraordinary efforts promoting water efficiency in 2011.
Platinum Awards were also received for 10 consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Northwest Water Reclamation Facility and six consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Noonday Water Reclamation Facility. South Cobb and R.L. Sutton Water Reclamation facilities were honored with Gold Awards for compliance in 2010.