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Water authority looks into rail line
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The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority is looking at three potential routes for the 36-inch water main that would eventually be needed to transport water from the Bear Creek Reservoir, whenever its' built.

Route Name, Project Length, Potential Easements Needed:
Western Supply Main, 14 miles, 181
Norfolk Southern Supply Main, 16 miles, 30
Georgia Power Right-of-Way Supply Main, 14.5 miles, 55

Vital stats on the proposed Bear Creek Reservoir:
Reservoir volume at normal pool - 5.5 billion gallons
Reservoir surface area - 1,242 acres
Height of dam - 62 feet
Full pool elevation - 642 feet
Length of dam - 1450 feet
Maximum yield with pumping from Alcovy River - 28 million gallons per day

The cost of water:
Estimated cost per easement: $1,950
Cost per mile of 36-inch main: $600,000
Cost per river crossing: $250,000

The 16-miles of Norfolk Southern railroad in Newton County could be a potential corridor for a water main to transport water from the planned Bear Creek Reservoir, but the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority needs more information before it can make a final call.

Authority Director Mike Hopkins and his staff presented information to the authority's board last week, showing three potential routes for a 36-inch water transmission main, which would be required to transport water from Bear Creek, planned for the southeastern portion of the county.While the railroad corridor would be the longest route at 16 miles, it would cross the fewest easements. Another option is to include a route along 8.8 miles of Georgia Power right-of-way, if the company would allow it. The third route would cross 181 easements, many residential, and follow Henderson Mill Road to Flat Shoals Road to Covington ByPass Road and Crowell Road.

The water authority board will take no further action at this point, because research would necessitate field work and cost money. The biggest questions regarding any of the routes are whether there are rocks in the path, if there would be any difficult water crossings, or any unforeseen complications like chemical or soil quality issues.
Before the authority agrees to spend money on further research it needs to know when the Bear Creek Reservoir will be created and who is going to pay for the installation of the water transmission lines. Plans for Bear Creek have been done for more than a decade, but no timetable has been given for its construction.

Hopkins said the authority would most likely not be willing to spend money to purchase the railroad corridor, even if it was the best choice. He said it is only exploring the railroad corridor for its use as a water transmission corridor, nothing else.

The water authority was doing this initial research because Norfolk Southern had given county officials a deadline of March 31 to decide whether they were going to pursue a purchase.

The Newborn Town Council sent a letter of intent to purchase the railroad in late February, but Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan said the two sides are still exchanging information. He expects to have more information next week.