Update: The Sandy Springs City Council at its April 5 meeting directed city staff to move ahead on crafting the agreement described below. It will require more legal vetting and a future council vote.

Sandy Springs may soon be able to repair leaky Atlanta-owned water pipes and fire hydrants in a proposed agreement the Sandy Springs City Council will consider April 5.

A fire hydrant at 6075 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs was missing for four months before Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management replaced it in December 2015 with the new hydrant pictured above shortly after installation. (Photo John Ruch)

Local public water systems were extended into Fulton County by the city of Atlanta years before Sandy Springs and other cities formed. The water infrastructure is still owned and operated by Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. But the department has a huge network to maintain and can take months to repair leaks, sparking frequent local complaints.

The Sandy Springs Public Works Department reports the city received 1,283 complaints about leaking pipes, meters and fire hydrants since July 2013. Repairs on broken fire hydrants sometimes take months, an issue that the Sandy Springs Fire Rescue department voiced concerns about earlier this year.

Under the proposed agreement, Sandy Springs city contractors could make such repairs—presumably more quickly—in exchange for a reimbursement from Atlanta up to $100,000 per year. The agreement is presented as a possible pilot program for Atlanta to make similar deals with other suburban cities.

The agreement is on the City Council agenda only for discussion, not a vote, as a “work session” item. That typically means that if the council likes the idea, city staff will put the item on the voting agenda for a future council meeting.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.