Details regarding reverse osmosis water treatment facility expected to emerge in the weeks ahead

Sunday, July 9, 2023–1:12 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

Officials with the City of Rome are expected to get a better idea of the cost of a new reverse osmosis facility once the design phase of the project has been completed.

Settlements have been announced in a lawsuit filed by the city against carpet manufacturers, chemical companies, and others that will pay for the new facility that will remove PFAS and other chemicals from the local water supply. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are widely used to make carpets and other items stain resistant. The chemicals have been linked to numerous adverse health impacts. The money from the settlements, an estimated $159 million dollars at this point, is expected to be enough to cover the cost of the new water treatment facility that will be located between the Rome Community Center and DFCS buildings on Riverside Parkway.

The city had implemented a water rate increase to pay for the reverse osmosis treatment if the legal action was not successful. As a result of the settlements, City of Rome Water customers will see their rates rolled back to where they were on December 30, 2018. That rollback will take effect in September and the average customer will see savings on their bills of around $10 to $15.

Mike Hackett

Hackett told the Rome Water and Sewer Committee recently that there could also be more flexibility on the reverse osmosis plant because Floyd County is purchasing less water from the city since switching to a demand-based wholesale rate.  

“In other words, we may not have to design it for 30 MGD [million gallons per day], we might be able to do it, for say, 24 MGD,” he said. “So, that could be huge cost savings if it becomes necessary as we move forward with the design and ultimately get some idea of what this is going to cost.”

Hackett added that they will end up at a set amount of money that they have to make the plant happen with.

“We’ve been working on different possibilities of what we can do depending on the total amount of money and what the real market price by a contractor will be,” he said.

Under the old wholesale agreement, the county was paying $1.46 per thousand gallons. Now the rate is $3.20. Despite selling less water to the city water department ended up with a $3,000 profit at the end of last year.

“They’ve progressively used less and less water,” Hackett said. “Initially, we may not be as profitable, or maybe we will be. We’re about to come into the summer months and that’s when we’ll see. If we have a hot, dry summer, we will probably be more profitable.”

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