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Plugging financial leaks with Water, Sewer master plan
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Fiscal accountability was the important takeaway at a discussion of Rockdale County’s water and sewer systems this past Tuesday.

The meeting, hosted by the League of Women’s Voters of Rockdale-Newton, featured members of the Rockdale County Water and Sewage Authority discussing proposed measures they want to take to repay debts and improve the county’s antiquated pipelines.

"The system is very, very old,” said Phyllis Turner. Turner explained that most of the counties water pipes are more than 40 years old, many dating back to 1913.

The Water and Sewage Authority cite the lack of a water resources manager for a period of time coupled with the disbanding of the authority before it was reenacted in 2009 as leading to poor oversight of the county’s water and sewage resources.

“A lot of things went by the wayside,” said Turner.

As a result, the county continues to lose money on treated water and sewer services provided to residents.

Garvin Haynes, chairman of the master plan, said that the W&S Authority wants to focus on repairing aged and leaky pipes, improve water quality and modernize wastewater treatment through a 200 page water and wastewater master plan.

The plan includes upgrading wastewater treatment plants at the Almand and Quigg branches, looping lines to eliminate water buildup and keep water moving throughout county, as well as water collection improvements at Randy Poynter Lake.

The question the water authority wants to answer is how to get the funds to get these projects off the ground.

“We still have challenges that will cause a great deal of money,” Haynes said.

Haynes mentioned that they managed to convince the Board of Commissioners to allocate $12 million in 2011 SPLOST funds to begin improvements. About $5 million of that would go toward building a 10 million gallon water storage tank located at the water treatment plant off of Gees Mill Rd near the Georgia International Horse Park.

The other $7 million would go toward repairing 40 miles of water and sewer lines, which co-chair Elaine Nash stated was “a drop in the bucket” compared to the hundred-plus miles of pipeline in the county.

Currently, the water authority has to wrestle with limited revenues and regulations from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to fix outdated pipelines and improve the water and sewage infrastructure.

Yet authority member Chip Hatcher said that county residents can be reassured that the county residents do have clean drinking water.

Nash said that a public meeting about the master plan is in the works and residents will have the chance to examine the full plan and give comment.

Rockdale Water Resources director Dwight Wicks was scheduled to attend the forum, but was unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict.