During its meeting on Monday, the Cobb authority directed board chair and Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon to send a letter to Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, urging the Canton City Council to approve its portion of the purchase of a SCADA computer monitoring system.
The letter, which was approved unanimously by the Cobb board, asks Canton approve the system before the authority is set to meet again on July 16.
Authority board member Don Mabry told the board he was getting tired of the letters between Bacon and Hobgood and he was ready to take action.
In a May 29 letter, Hobgood said the Council hadn’t decided whether the SCADA system is essential to the reservoir’s management.
“We need to get the project completed,” Mabry said Monday. “Get it completed and we’ll negotiate the interests of both entities.”
Hobgood declined to comment Tuesday, saying he’d rather wait to see Bacon’s letter.
However, Canton City Councilmember Bob Rush told the Tribune the mayor’s letters do “not speak for all of council,” and said he believes it’s time the city approve the project.
“I believe we should go ahead with the construction of the management building as designed and the SCADA system and be done with it,” he said. “We need to start acting like a partner and not develop an adversarial relationship with (the authority).”
The city, which owns one quarter of the as-yet-unopened reservoir, with the rest owned by the water authority, would be responsible for paying 25 percent of the SCADA system’s cost or roughly $250,000.
Cobb authority general manager Glenn Page said the water authority has worked on the SCADA’s design for two years and has been ready to go out to bid for two months.
He said there is urgency to get the project bid soon in order to have it ready for summer 2013, when water demand is highest, because it must be advertised for a month, then construction will take nine months.
An acronym for supervisory control and data acquisition, the SCADA is a computer monitoring system that allows the authority to remotely monitor activity at the reservoir and dam.
Council member John Beresford said he didn’t like the tone of some of the authority’s board members when talking about the city.
He said both entities recently held a meeting and agreed to have more dialogue about their sticking points and said he was “disappointed” in what he called “threats” being made to the city.
Beresford also said if the authority has worked on the design for two years, the city should have been presented with their plans long before the sticking points became public knowledge.
He also added he didn’t think the city should “blindly throw” its share toward the project with the “cost overruns” due to “bad decisions” being made about the reservoir.
Page said the authority has to monitor the reservoir manually by a reservoir operator, who works an 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. schedule five days a week.
That operator has to manually monitor the reservoir’s water levels and manually turn on and off valves and pumps.
The SCADA system, he added, would allow the authority to monitor activity at the reservoir and dam remotely.
He also said the system will sound alarms or notifications if something goes awry.
The authority discussed what it could do if Canton refuses to grant the authority its wish of approving its portion of the system.
If Canton does not approve its share of the costs, Page said the authority can take the case into arbitration, which is called for in the reservoir’s joint user agreement.
According to state law, each side would pick an arbitrator; the two arbitrators would then pick a third arbitrator.
The three-person panel will then hear the case, make a decision or meet “somewhere in the middle” and give direction, Page added.
Canton has held up the SCADA project as well as building a new office near the reservoir as some council members have expressed concerns about he cost of the project.
Increased expenses have led the city of Canton to consider selling its share in the reservoir, which has seen its total cost rise to nearly $100 million from $20 million when first planned in 2000.
Bacon has indicated to Hobgood in letters that the authority has no plans to give up its first right of refusal to Canton’s decision, a sticking point among Canton leaders.
The agreement stipulates Canton can only sell its portion if Cobb agrees, which Hobgood has said is preventing the city from fully marketing its share.
Hobgood’s request to look for other buyers came after a consultant hired by Cobb advised against the authority taking over the city’s 25 percent ownership in the reservoir.
The consultant said the value of Canton’s share would depend on whether Cobb’s authority can get approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw additional water from Lake Allatoona.
The 414-acre reservoir is designed to deliver water through a 1.5-mile pipeline into the Etowah River, where it would flow into Lake Allatoona where the water authority withdraws water for its customers, which include Cobb and Paulding counties and the cities of Marietta and Smyrna.
But the opening of the dam has also been delayed because the Corps has yet to approve the water authority’s plan for water withdrawal.
— Staff writer Geoff Folsom also contributed to this article.