Madison County is asking the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority for water — and a 30-year agreement to boot.
Authority manager Eric Klerk said the request is a big decision because if approved, it would be the first time the county would provide water outside of the four member counties of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.
During a meeting held Jan. 9, the board reviewed Madison County's request. Klerk said other members of the UOBWA — Clark, Oconee and Barrow counties — would have first right of refusal before the authority agreed to sell to Madison County, which isn't part of the UOBWA.
The request for water came from Sen. Frank Ginn, who also serves as the executive director of the Madison County Industrial Development Authority.
Ginn requested the authority consider going outside the standard three-year water sale agreement and instead enter into a 30-year agreement at a cost of $2.30 per thousand gallons.
Ginn was apparently under the impression that the amount is what Braselton currently pays for water. But Klerk said that is old data and under the current agreement, Braselton is paying closer to $3.00 per thousand gallons.
Klerk said if the authority were to agree to sell water to Madison County, staff would recommend an assessment of a $7,000 minimum monthly fee to help offset the cost, estimated at $225,000, that would be incurred to run 2,200 feet of line to make the connection.
Ginn said the expense to Madison County would be significantly higher than the cost to the authority due to the amount of line needed to meet the authority connection and an agreement of more than three years would be needed in order to recoup that expense.
“I think 30 years is a lot to ask, particularly since Braselton, Commerce and Jefferson are getting three (years,)” said board member Pat Bell. “This authority, and my job here, is to protect the water in this county for the people in this county.”
No action was taken by the board, but authority chairman Dylan Wilbanks said he would like for the board to continue conversations with Madison County.
In other business, the authority:
• approved a conditional availability letter for a proposed residential project to be constructed south of Nicholson along Chandler Bridge Rd. The project is in the preliminary stage and an official design and layout has not been determined. Klerk said the request is not the usual application for water and sewer services. “In order to get sewer for this project, we need a sewage treatment plant in the area of the development,” Klerk said. In 2006, the authority adopted a policy to allow a developer to construct a treatment facility in lieu of payment for sewer connection fees. In this case, the connection fees would be around $2 million. The developer will be required to construct the treatment plant and obtain the required discharge permits. Ownership and operation would then be turned over to the authority. Klerk said the benefit of the authority accepting the treatment plant would be to establish a presence in the southern part of the county. Preliminary design of the project calls for cluster housing, totaling 300 to 400 units, around an existing lake; construction of a golf course and layout for residential farm land. The authority approved a conditional availability letter for the proposed project, which the developer will take to the county to work on zoning and county regulations. Board member Pat Bell voted against the request.
• approved a water sales agreement with the City of Commerce. The agreement will allow Commerce to purchase or sell water to the authority, on an as needed basis, up to 750,000 gallons of water per day from each of two separate locations, with a total not to exceed 1.5 million gallons per day. In turn, the authority agrees to the same arrangement to sell or purchase water from Commerce. According to Klerk, it is estimated the new SK Battery facility will require two million gallons of water per day and the current amount required by the Commerce water customer base is equal to this amount. If Commerce reached a point of purchasing 1.5 million gallons of water per day, fire flow and system pressures could continue to be maintained as well as keeping storage tanks at capacity. “They (Commerce) are looking for a replacement and they don’t want to stretch themselves thin while keeping in mind any future growth,” Klerk said.
• voted to reappoint Dylan Wilbanks as chairman of the board; Judy Smith as treasurer and Karen Johnson as secretary. Upon the recommendation by current vice chairman Pat Bell, Christopher Nichols was appointed vice chairman.
• approved a request from Sterling Residential LLC, Mark Rudolph, developer, to provide water to Hickory Flat. The development will be located on Brockton Rd. and will consist of 25 single family homes.
• accepted a bid from Universal Underground Utility Contractors to replace water lines in the Pleasant Acres development. With the approved bid of $1.49 million, this will bring the total project cost, including contingencies, design, replacement of meters and purchase of the system, to a little over $2 million.