COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton County Board of Commissioners took advice from an outsider’s point of view - or a skyscraper’s point of view – on what to do about the county’s drinking water supply in a work session on the proposed Bear Creek reservoir Thursday night.
“We have taken a look at that project, the history of it and so forth, from about 10,000 feet in the air, we haven’t dug down into the meat and potatoes of it as much as probably if the commission decided to move forward with it,” Consultant Nick Ogden, owner of Ogden & Associates, said.
Ogden told the commissioners that the first step would be for the county to determine a “need and purpose.”
“Your need and purpose is paramount in the process, because if you do not have a need or if you do not have a purpose that is the end of it and the Corp (Army Corps of Engineers) will send it back to you,” he said. “You just won’t get the permit for anything.”
It will take about two years to get a permit once the need and purpose have been established and 10 to 15 years to build a reservoir. Ogden said, from his analysis, the county could be in need in about 28 years, giving the county about a dozen years to assess county water needs.
Rick Whiteside, of Corblu Ecology Group, estimated the cost of a reservoir being anywhere from $90 million to $140 million, which did not include the cost of a water treatment plant.
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said both Ogden and Whiteside made it clear, along with other studies, that the county’s best option would be to continue to maintain and upgrade the county’s current water treatment infrastructure rather than moving forward with a reservoir.