Forsyth County to build new system to transport treated water to Lake Lanier

Justine Lookenott
Forsyth County will soon begin building a Return Flow System to transport treated water to Lake LanierPhoto byMichelle Hall

(Forsyth County, GA) Forsyth County will soon begin building a Return Flow System to transport treated water from the Fowler Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) to Lake Lanier.

The new system follows water management agreements between the County, the State of Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the County’s expected water intake from Lake Lanier.

“We are pleased to start taking steps forward on this project of regional significance that is critical to the success of the water supply plan for the Metropolitan Atlanta region and the entire State of Georgia," said Director of Water & Sewer Barry Lucas.

The Return Flow System

In order for the water management agreement concerning Lake Lanier to be approved, requirements were established for how wastewater is returned to the lake to ensure water availability.

According to the Forsyth County website, “The Fowler Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) has historically provided reuse water to customers prior to discharging into a drip field at the Shakerag WRF or directly into the Chattahoochee River.”

Existing Forsyth County facilities and conveyance infrastructures handle this system well, but the new agreement requires returning flow to Lake Lanier in the coming years.

In order for the County to maintain the planned amount of water withdrawal from the lake, about 16 mgd (millions of gallons per day) of water from the Fowler WRF must be returned to the lake via the planned return flow pipeline, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

While the Georgia Environmental Protection Division requires the return of treated water from Lake Lanier by 2040, the County's projected population growth and capacity limitations of existing infrastructure expect the Return Flow System will be needed between 2030 and 2036.
A map of the Return Flow System project in Forsyth CountyPhoto byForsyth County Government

Project details

The Return Flow System will include an eight-mile pipeline, pump station and diffuser. Phase 1, which will include the construction of the pipeline from the Fowler WRF to Lake Lanier, is expected to be completed in 2026 with a budget of $77 million.

Phase 2 will include the pump station and Phase 3 will include the construction of the diffuser.

“Reliable and sustainable water infrastructure is a necessity to support the residents and businesses of Forsyth County and this project will help ensure that Forsyth County has a secure water source in the future,” said Lucas.

The project will be funded by a combination of local funds and a $32.6 million grant for water and sewer infrastructure projects the County received from Governor Brian Kemp.

For more information on the $32.6 million grant, click here. For more information on the Forsyth County Return Flow System project, go to

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA

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