When discussing the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority’s plan to purchase the county’s water infrastructure, Hopkins said the topic of the proposed Bear Creek Reservoir comes up frequently.
Newton County Chair Keith Ellis asked Hopkins specifically about the proposed reservoir project during a work session Tuesday. Hopkins said that the proposed project would be part of the NCWSA’s due diligence.
For nearly 20 years, the county has been purchasing land and working towards obtaining permits necessary to build a reservoir on Bear Creek to provide for future water needs. By 2014, over $21 million had been spent on the project. (See “$21 million spent to date on Bear Creek,” at http://www.covnews.com/archives/57030/.)
The controversial project was put on hold after the Army Corps of Engineers withdrew the permit application needed to move forward because, stating the county had not justified the need for a new reservoir. (See “BOC suspends all work on Bear Creek Reservoir,” at http://www.covnews.com/archives/60877/.)
Hopkins said NCWSA engineering studies indicated that if “you optimize the reservoir we have, another reservoir wouldn’t be needed until past 2040. We’d just concentrate on the two treatment facilities and the two [existing] reservoirs.”
Ellis asked Hopkins during a work session between the NCWSA’s board of directors and the Newton County Board of Commissioners if the county should continue to pursue getting a permit.
Hopkins said now would not be the right time for that.
“I think right now, it would be difficult to get the permit,” Hopkins said. “The population numbers are not there. We have an abundant water supply.”
Continuing to get the optimal amount of water out of the supply the county has already is the issue Hopkins is focusing on in upgrading treatment plants.
Because the NCWSA is required to buy 100 percent of its non-emergency water supply from Newton County, Hopkins said, concerns were raised. “We have no control over deficiencies and problems with the treatment plants,” Hopkins told The News. “I don’t want to make the call to [Shire] or General Mills and say the county can’t get us enough water to [supply] you.
“When you’re dependent on another entity to make improvements and upgrades to meet your customer demands, that’s a concern,” he said.