The Water System remained very stable financially during 2012, meeting the expectations of the bond rating agencies. Even though revenues were slightly less than expected, due primarily to the slowed economy and marginally reduced water sales, this shortfall was more than compensated for by efficient management that resulted in operating expenses of nearly 3 percent less than budgeted.
The South Cobb Tunnel project proceeds within budget and is now projected to be completed about 15 months ahead of schedule. The lining of the 27-foot diameter entry tunnel, varying in depth between 150 and 400 feet, was completed in July. The contact grouting process is well underway. The tunnel is anticipated to become operational during the spring of 2013.
The Sweetwater Creek Sanitary Sewer extension project was completed in June, and the project finished under the contract amount. This $6.3 million project included 10,700 linear feet of 54-inch gravity sanitary sewer and 3,300 linear feet of 12-inch and 24-inch ductile iron force mains.
Bids for the R.L. Sutton Biosolids Receiving Station were received in September (low bid of $10.6 million) and construction began in December. This station will allow the introduction of dewatered sewage biosolids, received via truck delivery from off-site sources, to the fluidized bed incineration system at the Sutton facility. The project will reduce landfill requirements and result in substantial ongoing disposal cost savings.
Mark Avenue Regional Detention Facility became fully operational in August. This project is intended to lessen the effects of storms on downstream properties along Noonday Creek Tributary Number 3 as well as the main stem of Noonday Creek by reducing channel degradation and flooding frequency. The facility is a 93 acre floodwater storage area impounded by a 17-foot high, 325-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 Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff to assist flood victims and provide relief where possible. This is an ongoing effort made more difficult by reductions in federal and state funding. To date, Cobb has been able to assist flood victims in acquiring, demolishing, and removing 52 flood-damaged homes through the Hazard Mitigation Grants program and qualifying 22 other damaged residences for federal assistance.
To provide even further convenience to Cobb Water System customers, the “Instant Payment” option is now available via the Water System Web site. Customers who do not wish to set up a user name and password to pay online can select this option and will be prompted to enter a unique code to access this electronic billing feature. Since the implementation, there are approximately 600 users of the feature weekly.
In operations, the Water Protection Division received the GAWP Wastewater Collection System of the Year Gold Award for Outstanding Operation of a Wastewater Collection System in the category of Large Systems (more than 50,000 customers). Platinum Awards were received for 11 consecutive years of perfect permit compliance at Northwest Water Reclamation Facility and seven 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 2011.
In the area of public education and outreach, the Watershed Stewardship Program’s “Eco-Logical…Tips to Reduce Your Footprint” video series, featuring various pollution prevention topics to help improve water quality throughout Cobb County and surrounding watersheds, was awarded the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Public Education Innovative Initiative Award. This series is produced in partnership with the Water System’s Stormwater Division and the county Communications TV23 production team.