Joey Leslie

Joey Leslie

"Water resources may be the number one factor limiting future growth in Jackson County," according to Joey Leslie, the general manager of the Jackson County Water & Sewerage Authority.

Massive growth in the region is starting to put pressure on existing water resources, Leslie told members of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce on May 4.

The doubling of the capacity at the Bear Creek Reservoir from 9 million gallons per day to 18 mgd will help buy some time, he said, and the county may be able to go until around 2045 before it runs out of water. But Leslie said predicting the future water needs is difficult.

Over the next five years, Leslie said the JCWS&A would be undertaking $33 million in capacity improvements and would be looking to drill wells in the coming years to help provide future water sources.

But the cost of building water capacity has become extremely expensive, he said.

The county will also be looking to expand its wastewater capacity and services in the coming years, likely by building a water treatment plant somewhere along the Mulberry River. Leslie said sewerage usage went up 20% in 2021 and the county will need additional treatment capacity in the coming years.

Leslie said he hopes the next county SPLOST initiative would include some funding for water and sewerage expansion so that county ratepayers don't have to bear all the burden of the capital needs to build additional facilities.

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