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EPWSA considers reduced rates during water quality test

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EPWSA considers reduced rates during water quality test

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The Eatonton-Putnam Water and Sewer Authority on Aug. 15 considered a request by Sinclair Water Authority to reduce that entity’s water rates.

The entity wants the cost reduction as it runs tests to try and produce cleaner water for longer distances.

In an effort to provide quality water to established customers, and to new ones if negotiations with Piedmont Water Company to expand distribution is finalized, SWA is reintroducing chlorine dioxide into the water to try and reduce total organic carbon (TOC) content.

According to EPWSA board assistant chairman, Dr. Steve Hersey, who is also a member of the SWA board, the method of testing would require large amounts of clean water, so SWA officials are concerned about high cost.

“They don’t want to pay the residential rates (more than $31 per 1,000 gallons) to EPWSA for the use of that water,” Hersey said.

SWA usually pays less than $50 a month for the small amount of water it uses through a service line at a Spurgeon Drive meter going to the raw water intake facility.

According to BOC Chairman-elect Billy Webster, who spoke at the EPWSA meeting, SWA expects to use between 500,000 and 1 million gallons of water a month to conduct the tests.

After some discussion on the issue, the board lost their quorum when EPWSA Chairman Mayor Walt Rocker Jr. left early and city member, Judd Doster, was not in attendance.

Eventually, the remaining board members, Bill Sharp, at large member, and Mike Rowland, county member, along with Hersey requested EPWSA attorney John Nix draft a preliminary contract that the EPWSA board could discuss when there is a quorum.

The board instructed Nix to base the contract on SWA paying the residential rate for the first 3,000 gallons of water used and $1.50 per 1,000 gallons after that for a period of 6 months with a renewal clause.

During initial discussion, Sharp proposed charging SWA 80 cents per 1,000 gallons, a price suggested during current negotiations with Piedmont Water Company for a Harmony Road project.

“In order for us to put water out to Harmony Crossing, it’s essential we have that chlorine dioxide added to the water to get quality water out that way,” Sharp said. “We’re not going to lose anything, but we’re going to gain quality water.”

EPWSA Director Donna Van Haute, who is also on the SWA board, said it was essential that EPWSA get quality water out of the SWA plant for all of its current customers as well as future customers.

“And Baldwin has the same issues,” she said, advising she thought the testing would take more than 90 days.

Webster said SWA expected to run the tests for only three months, and if they need to inject treated water over the long term, they would run water from SWA to the intake or move the intake infusion to the plant.

“If the chlorine dioxide works, they’ve got to restructure the whole plant to make it work,” he said, noting the 2009 facility would not meet current standards.

Explaining the process, Webster said in order to infuse chlorine dioxide, it has to be under reduced pressure.

“To get that reduced pressure, you do the Venturi effect,” he said.

The Venturi effect occurs when a fluid that is flowing through a pipe is forced through a narrow section, resulting in a certain pressure.

Webster said SWA had been testing back and forth between raw water and treated water and was trying to make the raw water work.

He said so far, testing shows the quality of the water has been dependent upon the temperature of the lake.

“The TOC levels are only elevated during the hot months, come September, October they’re going to go away until next June,” Webster said, noting SWA had not yet figured how much treatment water they would need for the test. “If you use raw water, it contaminates the system and the system shuts down, so to make it work properly, they need treated water, which is the EPWSA water because that’s where the meter is.”

Hersey said proposals to renovate the SWA system range from $100,000 to $350,000 for a permanent fix, and that Baldwin County should agree to “split the cost of that permanent fix.”

Hersey also argued that Putnam and Baldwin counties would need to make changes in the distribution system.

“You can’t send water that far without expecting some level of increase in those contaminants,” Hersey said, referring to the Harmony Road project, which would take processed water more than 2 miles along that road.

“But in order to control it at the distribution line level we need to have it split at the plant,” Hersey said. “We cannot accept whatever Baldwin County needs as what we need and treat it in the distribution center.”