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County to study where water is used most
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an agreement between the county, the city of Covington and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority to fund a supervisory control and data acquisition system at their Sept. 18 board meeting.

Jason Nord, director of Newton County Water Resources, asked commissioners to approve sharing funding for a water system SCADA control update study and radio survey. Nord said the study will monitor how water is distributed around the county and determine where water is in high demand.

The funding is split with the county paying $16,402, the city of Covington agreeing to pay $17,349 and the water authority paying $19, 243.

Nord said the system hasn't been upgraded in 20 years and it needed to be upgraded in order to meet Federal Communications Commission compliance by Jan. 1, 2013.

"The upgrade will make it more efficiently understand how the water system is acting. It will give us a better idea of the demand. Basically, what areas of the county are using water and what areas are not," Nord said.

He also said the study and survey will be done by Industrial Control Systems, a company out of Sandston, Va. The project would be paid for from the water enterprise fund and has already been budgeted in the fund.

In other business, the board of commissioners tabled making a decision on whether to approve giving Newton County Water Resources permission to apply for a GEFA loan for solar-powered reservoir circulators.

Nord told commissioners that he wanted to apply for a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority in order to fund solar-powered reservoir circulators from Solar Bee, a company that will distribute and install the circulators.

Nord said they want to place solar-powered reservoir circulators in Lake Varner and City Pond to monitor the water in order to create better water quality at the lakes. He said monitoring the lakes would also help cut down on the cost of water treatment chemicals.

"A solar powered circulator floats out in the lake and pulls low oxygenated water from the lower depths of the lake up to the surface, which allows it to gain oxygen and gain nutrients and creates more stable water and actually improves the water quality in the lake," Nord said. "This allows us to save money. It gives us better water to treat, which will save us money in the long run on chemicals."

The board of commissioners will again discuss if it will allow the water department to apply for the GEFA loan at its Oct. 16 meeting.