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Fix water system before expanding it: Water Authority
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Newton County should investigate alleged infrastructural weaknesses in its current water system before deciding if and when to build another reservoir, Water and Sewerage Authority Executive Director Mike Hopkins will advise the Board of Commissioners in the coming days.

“Rather than building the infrastructure and hoping that people come and utilize it and pay for it, [our model] is to monitor the demand as it goes up to make sure that we’re ahead of the curve but not so far ahead that we’re asking customers to foot the bill,” Hopkins said.

The flaws brought to light in the draft Master Water Plan should be a priority, Hopkins said. Bringing current facilities up to maximum capacity could put off the need for a new reservoir until 2035, 2040, or perhaps indefinitely, he added.

Moreover, increasing capacity ahead of demand would not only saddle rate and tax payers with the bill, it could also negatively impact water quality if drinking water sits in water mains for too long.

Hopkins and engineer Scott Emmons, along with several consultants, are putting the final touches on a 40 page review of the Master Plan they intend to present to the county chairman and board of commissioners soon.

Although the pair cited “problems” with certain aspects of the plan’s methodology, they said its claims that the current water treatment plants are operating below capacity merit a closer examination.

“We are just [the county’s] customer; I’d like to be a partner,” Hopkins told the board.

One of the problems with the plan, Emmons said, was the report’s conflation of water demand for ‘annual average day,’ which is used to evaluate source, and ‘peak day,’ which is used to evaluate treatment.

“The report is not one that we would have approved,” Emmons said of the plan, for which the county paid Krebs Engineering over $200,000. “There is a benefit out of it, which is that some apparent deficiencies were highlighted.”

“What we believe needs to be top priority…is verifying whether or not these deficiencies that are cited are indeed correct, that the plants can’t make their capacity, because that is a big issue for us…and then to immediately address all those things that are verifiable,” he concluded.

The authority is working with Engineered Horizons, Carter & Sloope, and Burns & McDonnell to evaluate to draft Master Water Plan.