Thank you to each Habersham resident who has taken the time to come to city hall over the past several of months and pay your sewer capacity reservation fee. At this point (as of 10/3/17), 328 customers or 83% have either paid their fee in full or made an arrangement to pay monthly. Please remember that your opportunity to receive the reduced rate of $5,000.00 ended on September 29, 2017.

Many residents have voiced their appreciation to the city for taking on this difficult situation. Thank you again for your continued patience and support.

Payment Requirements For Habersham Residents:

If you are paying IN FULL by September 29, 2017 , you will need to pay a $5,000.00 sewer connection fee. If using a VISA or MasterCard to pay the $5,000.00 fee, there will be no credit card fees or other fees associated with the payment. The City does not accept American Express or Discover Card to pay sewer connection fees.

If you are choosing to pay after September 29, 2017, you will be required to pay a $6,250.00  sewer connection fee. If you decide to set up a monthly installment payment plan of $100.00 per month, you will be charged an interest rate of 1.00% for a grand total of $6,312.50. Please keep in mind that if you plan to pay your monthly installment with a credit card, the City’s credit card provider ALSO charges a 4.00% usage fee.

Please note: if the sewer connection fee creates an extreme hardship for your family, please contact Cumming Utilities at 770-781-2020 for assistance and a lower payment option. You will need to present proof of your financial hardship to receive a lower payment plan.

In addition, if you choose a payment plan, please be advised that the City may file a lien against your property to ensure that this sewer connection fee is satisfied in the future.

Please be advised that it is the City’s policy (and has been the City’s policy for the past 25 years) to charge a sewer connection fee for each individual residential unit – not for each building. This policy applies to a single detached residential home, an individual apartment unit, an individual condominium unit, or an individual townhome unit, etc.

Failure of the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility:

Habersham subdivision residents were sent the following letter on May 17, 2017 regarding the failure of the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility – the facility that treats each Habersham homeowners’ sewer. The communities that are connected to this once privately-owned waterwater treatment facility and which were impacted by this incident include but are not limited to the following:

  • Habersham on Lanier (off Nuckolls Road)
  • Habersham at Lanier (off Nuckolls Road)
  • Townhouses at Lanier (off Buford Dam Road)
  • Habersham-Lanier Pointe (Habersham Marina) Condos
  • Others not listed

The Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility failed primarily due to a fire at the facility’s main wastewater pumping station and due to excessive age and lack of proper maintenance and repair. The Habersham Action Committee (HAC) – the private organization that was in operational control of the facility until mid-April 2017, diverted sewer flow to the City of Cumming’s sewer system for treatment without permission from the City.

The Cumming Mayor and Council voted unanimously to condemn the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility and related properties on April 18, 2017 and to take immediate operational control of the facilities. This action was taken in an effort to protect the environment, the waters of Lake Lanier, and the almost 400 homeowners whose sewer system had failed.

When the city took operational control of the facility in April 2017, the City found that the plant equipment and facility was dilapidated – metal components were severely rusted, equipment such as blowers and pumps were outdated, dangerous electrical components filled control panels, and critical structural components were completely falling apart. The City also discovered that the facility was discharging improperly treated wastewater into Lake Lanier. Also, the City found that the facility’s treatment tanks were approximately 40% full of leaves and sludge, which rendered the facility inefficient and partially inoperable.

One time connection fee:

Customers have asked the following question: “Is this $5,000.00 charge a one-time fee that covers all of the work the City plans to do at the Habersham plant, inluding the repairs and improvements to the Habersham wastewater pumping stations and gravity sewer lines in the streets?”

The answer to this question is “yes”. The City charges a one-time connection fee to new customers and to developers of new subdivisions and homes and this one-time fee perpetually secures a homeowner’s sewer system rights within the City’s sewer system. Keep in mind that the City will be subsidizing the costs of the repairs, maintenance, and improvements made to the Habersham system.

This one-time connection fee of $5,000.00 will not only help the City accomplish the current repair and maintenance needs, but also all future upgrades to the system (i.e. 25 years down the road). Once the $5,000.00 has been paid, the only other cost to the homeowner will be the monthly sewer bill. No other fees or bills will be issued either now or in the future. (Keep in mind that if you choose to set the $6,250.00 up on monthly installments, you will be charged the agreed to monthly installment until the $6,250.00 is paid in full.)

List of the 395 known Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility Customers:

Habersham Customer List June 1 2017

Please click on the following links for maps and aerial photos of the multiple Habersham communities that are connected to the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Facility:

Habersham On Lanier Subdivision:

Habersham at Lanier Subdivision:

Habersham Marina Condos:

Townhouses at Lanier:

 

History of the Habersham Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP):

The Habersham WWTP was constructed around 1970 with a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years. Obviously, the facility is past its life expectancy and usefulness. Additionally, the NPDES discharge permit associated with this facility is not as stringent as those belonging to surrounding communities that discharge treated effluent into Lake Lanier. Many major upgrades are needed to bring this facility and its discharge up to federal and state lake discharge standards.

During the early 2000s, the owners of the Habersham WWTP approached the City multiple times to try to negotiate a take-over of the facility by the City. The City announced to the owners during that time period that each homeowner would be required to pay a sewer connection fee of at least $5,000.00 per home. The City opted not to take control of the the facility during that time period due to the excessive cost associated with renovating and upgrading the facility to meet Lake Lanier Water Quality Standards and the cost to clear up the many title issues related to the property.

Habersham WWTP National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit:

Current: Habersham WWTP NPDES Permit

The Future of the Habersham Facility:

The City is currently in the process of designing a new Advanced Water Reclamation Facility (AWRF) with membrane technology to replace the failed Habersham WWTP.

Current approximate cost estimates are as follows:

  • Membrane (MBR) Facility (new treatment facility) – $4 million
  • Replace 5 Wastewater Pumping Stations – (install redundancy, emergency generators, SCADA, etc.) – $800k x 5 = $4 million
  • Repalce dilapidated and root-clogged gravity sewer lines within the Habersham communities and streets to prevent sewer spills and line failures – $2 million

Total cost of repairs and replacements thus far: $10 million

Here are a few companies that construct membrane (MBR) wastewater treatment facilities:

GE – https://www.gewater.com/products/membrane-bioreactor-mbr

Fibracast – http://www.fibracast.com/

Kubota – http://www.kubota-membrane.com/page/about-us

Koch – http://www.kochmembrane.com/Learning-Center/Technologies/What-is-Ultrafiltration.aspx