Water authority to connect parts of system

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Covington Water Authority took its first steps Tuesday to fully interconnect the northern and southern portions of its water system.

Joe Harmon, an engineer with David Hicks and Associates in Abbeville, presented a plan that would allow for the interconnection on Ala. Hwy. 137.

“Which would allow water to flow from Boykin and Loango to the southern end of the county,” Harmon said. “By doing that, it would take the north to the south, so if you had issues like you had this summer with the pumps, it would be a big help.”

The “issue” Harmon spoke of was the breakdown of two pumps in June, which required the CWA to seek assistance from the Andalusia and Opp systems. It took more than a month to get the new pumps installed and running.

Harmon estimated the construction cost at $310,000 and said the line would run along Ala. Hwy. 137 to U.S. Hwy. 29.

Board members agreed to use an estimated $150,000 in bond money and saved funds for the project, while seeking out the lowest interest rate for the remaining balance.

The group said they would proceed with the project once a lending institution is selected.

Board members also heard from Gantt resident Doyle Taylor who questioned the interest rate of the board’s current outstanding debt and the cost to install a meter. That cost varies depending on location and materials used; however, Taylor objected to the $1,025 meter set fee charged when the CWA must bore under a state highway to install service.

Taylor said he believed the board was paying more than 5 percent interest on its outstanding debt; however, he was informed that the board had refinanced and was able to secure a 3 percent interest loan.

“I can’t tell you how much money that saved,” said board chairman Ralph Rutherford. “And as for the meter set fee, and all of our other charges, we look at that every three or four meetings to make sure we’re where we should be. We manage our system the best we can.

“We’re not beholden to the county commission,” Rutherford said. “We are being fair and honest and make sure all are treated equally. What the customer pays helps defray the cost of the job, and it’s not cheap when you have to pull permits and pay a contractor to do it since we don’t have a directional boring machine.”

Currently, the CWA serves 4,400 customers in Covington County.