In the 1970’s, a group of concerned citizens began with a vision of ideas to strengthen the economic development of Dawson County and to help create jobs in the county. Most residents and students graduating had to search for employment in other counties due to the lack of businesses in Dawson County. Through an Act of Legislation, Etowah Water & Sewer Authority (the “Authority”) was created and a Board of Directors was selected by the Legislation to knock on doors to get enough commitment from prospective customers to justify a loan from FHA (Farmers Home Administration). Early in the 1980’s, with almost 900 customers, a loan in the amount of $1.8 million and a million dollar grant from Farmers Home and ARC, the groundwork for the first water treatment plant in Dawson County was initiated.
In June 1986, the Authority began providing water service to Dawson County citizens with a permit to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day from the Etowah River. Today, the Hightower Water Treatment Facility plant supplies an average of 1.5 to 3 million gallons per day (MGD) to approximately 5,100 customers and the facility can currently treat up to 5.5 MGD.
In 1996 the first wastewater treatment plant was put into service to serve the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall and other commercial and industrial businesses along the Hwy. 400 corridor. Today, there are approximately 376 sewer customers, averaging 300,000 gallons per day (GPD) of usage. In 2010, the Dawson Forest Water Reclamation Facility was expanded, which brought the facility to 500,000 GPD permitted capacity. A third expansion to this facility will allow treatment of 1 MGD. Over the next 30 years, the facility could reach 10 MGD and will include a direct river discharge after the next expansion.
With the Georgia Highway 400 corridor serving as the catalyst for commercial, residential and industrial development throughout the county, the demand for additional water will exceed the supply. After conducting a Projection of Water Supply Needs Study, it estimated EWSA’s monthly average water demand will exceed 17.5 MGD by 2050. Plans began to expand an existing NRCS watershed lake to meet those needs. In January 2008, a 404 permit was submitted to the US Corp of Engineers for a reservoir project. We hope to begin construction of the 138 acre reservoir in the next 3 years, once necessary permits, assessments and plans are finalized with the regulatory agencies. In addition to expanding water resources and treatment facilities, The Authority’s Board of Directors, General Manager and staff have developed a 3 year Comprehensive Plan, a ten (10) year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of $44 million, operating budgets and a comprehensive funding program to meet future needs and system improvements.
Even with our humble beginnings, the Authority is growing at a steady and exciting pace to meet the future water and wastewater needs of its customers and the citizens of Dawson County. The Authority commits to support all of the citizens of Dawson County and economic development with water services.