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Posted: April 1, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Water authority looks into rail line

The 16-miles of Norfolk Southern railroad in Newton County could be a potential corridor for a water main to transport water from the planned Bear Creek Reservoir, but the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority needs more information before it can make a final call.

Authority Director Mike Hopkins and his staff presented information to the authority's board last week, showing three potential routes for a 36-inch water transmission main, which would be required to transport water from Bear Creek, planned for the southeastern portion of the county.While the railroad corridor would be the longest route at 16 miles, it would cross the fewest easements. Another option is to include a route along 8.8 miles of Georgia Power right-of-way, if the company would allow it. The third route would cross 181 easements, many residential, and follow Henderson Mill Road to Flat Shoals Road to Covington ByPass Road and Crowell Road.

The water authority board will take no further action at this point, because research would necessitate field work and cost money. The biggest questions regarding any of the routes are whether there are rocks in the path, if there would be any difficult water crossings, or any unforeseen complications like chemical or soil quality issues.
Before the authority agrees to spend money on further research it needs to know when the Bear Creek Reservoir will be created and who is going to pay for the installation of the water transmission lines. Plans for Bear Creek have been done for more than a decade, but no timetable has been given for its construction.

Hopkins said the authority would most likely not be willing to spend money to purchase the railroad corridor, even if it was the best choice. He said it is only exploring the railroad corridor for its use as a water transmission corridor, nothing else.

The water authority was doing this initial research because Norfolk Southern had given county officials a deadline of March 31 to decide whether they were going to pursue a purchase.

The Newborn Town Council sent a letter of intent to purchase the railroad in late February, but Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan said the two sides are still exchanging information. He expects to have more information next week.

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