The water authority, which sells treated water to cities like Marietta and Smyrna, as well as Cobb and Paulding counties, is paying Howard Woods of Newtown, Pa., $12,000 plus expenses to evaluate the cost of the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, which the city of Canton is looking to sell its 25 percent ownership in.
The city of Canton and the Cobb-Marietta authority entered into a 50-year agreement to build the pumped-storage reservoir just off the Etowah River in 2000. But since then, its construction costs have ballooned from an estimated $20 million to close to $100 million.
But Canton and the water authority disagree over the actual cost.
Water authority general manager Glenn Page said Canton may be asking for more than what the reservoir, which is in the final stages of construction, is worth.
“They have used numbers in the $28 (million) to $30 million range (for Canton’s share),” he said. “And we don’t believe it’s that much.”
If the consultant determines a value on the reservoir that both sides can agree on, it could help speed up the process of transferring it to the water authority, which now owns the remaining 75 percent of the project, Page said. Woods is expected to complete the study by the end of January.
Page said Canton, which seeks to buy its wholesale water from the Cherokee County Water & Sewerage Authority, was expected to be committed to the Hickory Log Creek project.
“When we entered into the agreement, we pledged to be partners and to see it through,” he said.
Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood praised the decision by the authority.
“It’s meaningful that they would take that step to go ahead and hire someone to assist in any possible transfer or sale of a portion or all of the reservoir.”
Hobgood added that city leaders will schedule a meeting later this month with the consultant and the authority to review his findings.
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, chairman of the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority’s board, said determining the value of the reservoir and dam, which are intended as a backup for Lake Allatoona, is a starting point.
“I want to do what’s best for everybody in the area,” he said. “I just know how difficult it’s been to getting the permits and mitigation issues and all these things … That has a lot of value. But, needless to say, we have to know what the value is before we can even start … negotiations or any kind of resolution to this issue.”
Bacon said it could be beneficial for the water authority to have complete ownership of the reservoir.
“They say there may be another drought again this year,” he said. “The reservoir is a great insurance policy.”