COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted Thursday evening to give Carter and Sloope, the county’s consulting engineers for water resources, the go-ahead to begin preparation of a loan application for funds to make improvements to the county’s water system and to come up with a list of projects to spend the money on.
The unanimous vote came after a presentation by Carter and Sloope’s Marty Boyd and County Water Resources Director James Brown about improvements needed to the water system. The presentation was the report of an assessment of the county’s water system conducted by Carter and Sloope.
According to the report, recommended improvements to the Cornish Creek and Williams Street plants will total over $23 million. Boyd recommended that the improvements be prioritized.
“We want to fix things in manageable chunks and pieces that make sense from a funding standpoint, that make sense from an operations standpoint and make sense from a constructability standpoint,” he said.
“And we also wanted to prioritize these projects based on eliminating any safety issues to operators and the public”
Boyd recommended that the focus be on the Cornish Creek plant because that’s where the county gets most of its water.
“Williams Street has been an important asset to this community and it’s an important asset to the Water Resources Department,” he said. “The reality is 85 percent or more of your water is coming from Cornish Creek, 100 percent most days.”
Among the improvements recommended for the Cornish Creek Plant are a floating dock pump station to increase amount of water that can be withdrawn, a new 30-inch high-service main parallel to the existing 24-inch high service main and installation of a new three mega-Watt backup power generator to power the entire plant during extended power outages.
According to the report, the total project costs for improvements to the Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant System including Alcovy River Pump Station No.2 improvements and Lake Varner improvements are just over $16 million.
Improvements to the Williams Street Plant are predicted to be less than half as much as the Cornish Creek improvements. Among the recommended repairs are necessary structural repairs at the plant and removal of the plant’s one-ton chlorine gas cylinders. Total costs for improvements to the Williams Street Water Treatment Plant System, including improvements to the Alcovy River Pump Station No. 1 improvements and City Pond improvements are $7,340,000.
During an April meeting, the BOC approved a request for Newton County Water Resources to ask the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) for permission to repurpose the $21 million GEFA loan allotted for the Bear Creek Reservoir to other water supply projects, including repairs and upgrades on existing water intake structures.
Carter and Sloope recommended the county utilize a GEFA loan available under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), a federally funded loan with a current interest rate of 1.89 percent that includes a 1 percent interest rate reduction for water conservation projects. Boyd said the improvements to the county’s system would qualify for the reduction.
“Most of these items address not only efficiency but more importantly they’re addressing conversation issues,” he said.
“When you start talking about reducing energy costs and saving water, it opens up another realm of options you have for funding.
Boyd told commissioners it’s possible that 10 percent or less of the entire project would not qualify for the conservation rate.
After the vote authorizing Carter and Sloope to begin preparation of the loan application and supporting documents for the DRSWF funding program and the list of recommended projects to be included on the application to be presented to the BOC for final approval, Brown asked commissioners to authorize Carter and Sloope to move forward with design work and beginning work on the application.
He said the new resolution, which was not on the original meeting agenda, could not wait until the Aug. 15 BOC meeting.
“Officially, if you want to Carter and Sloope to go forward and prepare the application, they’re not contracted to do that. Right now, there are only contracted for phase one, which was the assessment improvement plan and they have completed that. In order for them to move on to additional items, you have to approve phase two,” he said.
Brown told commissioners that the application process needed to begin Friday.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the change the meeting agenda and to authorize Carter and Sloope to move forward with the application.