The Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority recently increased its rate for haulers dumping septic waste from seven and a half cents per gallon to 15 cents. The increase goes into effect in August.
The cost of an average load, which is 1,000 gallons, will climb from $75 to $150, said Tom Heard, general manager of the CCWSA.
He said the new rate is equal to that charged in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. Cobb County charges $100 for the same amount, but charges $250 for a permit. Cherokee's annual permit fee is just $50. Gainesville charges $325.
Heard said the increase was prompted by an influx of loads from outside the county. More than half of the septic waste dumped in Cherokee comes from other communities, some even as far away as Alabama.
"We don't mind treating it," Heard said, but because of the low rate the authority was charging, they were "treating more than our fair share."
He said the cost of treating septic tank waste is high because the consistency of the waste is very strong.
"We don't make a profit. We don't break even," he said.
Randall Waller of Dixie Septic Tank Service in southwest Cherokee said haulers will have to pass the increased rates on to consumers through higher fees for cleaning their septic tanks.
"We are trying to get the word out to citizens" about the increase, he said, noting he thinks it's a bad time for prices to go up because of the economic situation. "People are hurting right now."
Don Brooks, owner of SWAT Septic Service in Woodstock, said some people are already not doing proper maintenance to their tanks because of the economy.
"Customers are going to be at the butt end of this," he said. "I don't think this is going to go over too good."
Waller also complained about the addition of a $150 service charge the authority has added for loads dumped before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
"A septic tank doesn't have hours," he said.
Heard said he understands the need for emergencies, but said loads come in too frequently after hours, forcing the authority to send personnel to the Rose Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and man the station while the hauler is there.
"It should not be the norm," he said. "It is an extra expense for us."