The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority wants to increase the amount of water it can treat for Jackson, Barrow and Oconee counties.
Nowhere near to using all of the water to which they’re entitled, Jackson County’s representatives on the regional water authority aren’t brimming with excitement about increasing the water plant capacity.
Delegates Pat Bell and Eric Klerk were mum when the vote was taken last Wednesday to complete a preliminary engineering report on upgrading the water plant’s capacity by 5.5 million gallons per day (mgd).
While Jackson owns the right to 25 percent of the water in the reservoir, its ownership of the water plant limits it to 9.3 million gallons a day. Its current usage is under 2 mgd.
Bell and Klerk didn’t vote against the plan, which would provide Jackson County another 2.4 mgd of treatment capacity — possibly because that’s the cheapest capacity they’re likely to be able to add and because it will put their treatment potential to 11.5 mgd — very close to their 13 mgd entitlement share in the reservoir. They just abstained.
But Bell couldn’t resist a dig at the board.
“Did we not learn that the problem was the reservoir?” she asked, referring to the drought which last fall had officials making monthly predictions about when the reservoir would run dry.
“That was your opinion,” countered Gary Dodd, who chairs the authority’s Operations Committee, which recommended continued work on the project. “The rest of us felt that the reservoir served its purpose. We got into the winter months with 60 percent of the water left.”
“My point is that the reservoir needs more attention than the treatment plant,” returned Bell.
The next step, said Dodd, is a complete analysis of the plant to make sure it can support treatment of an additional 5.5 mgd from the standpoint of capacity of its pumps, chemical feeds, etc.