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New fees took effect this month
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For more information on the monthly fire sprinkler system fee, call the authority at (706) 216-8474.

Business owners may have noticed their water bills were higher this month.


Here’s why.


A monthly fire sprinkler system fee, which the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority board approved in July, has recently gone into effect.


Authority customers required by code to use fire sprinkler systems will see the new flat fee on their monthly bill.


Brooke Anderson, general manager of the authority, said the fee was a necessity.


“It needed to be implemented in order to cover some costs associated with the construction, operation and maintenance” of water service designed for fire protection, he said.


Larger water connections are needed to activate sprinkler systems and make them work, Anderson said.


When a business opens, two separate water connections are made.


The first is for kitchen, bathroom and break room use, while the second is for fire emergencies.


In order to provide fire protection to businesses and churches — and, in rare cases, homes — the authority must use larger pipes and special pumps.


The size of a water line, which varies by business, helps determine the fee.


The fee may increase a business’s bill by anywhere from $15 to $80 per month.


Anderson said similar fees are used in the city of Gainesville, as well as Jackson, Athens-Clarke, Cobb and Gwinnett counties.