The Nicholson Water Authority made a move Monday night to get a share of the recently approved SPLOST 6 funds, but faced a lot of push back from Jackson County Board of Commissioners chairman Tom Crow.
Mike Bledsoe, engineer for the NWA, told the BOC that his organization would like to get $2.3 million from the SPLOST to use for five projects. Included in those projects would be to add two more wells to the NWA system, a second connection to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority’s system for backup, another water tank and two projects along Hwy. 334.
“People in our service area deserve some benefits from the SPLOST they helped pass,” he said.
But in a series of questions, Crow grilled Bledsoe about the request.
“Last summer was the time to bring us projects for SPLOST,” he said. Crow told Bledsoe that for the county to legally give the NWA funds, it would require another county-wide vote since the recent SPLOST approval allocated water and sewer funds to the JCWSA and the county’s various municipalities. The NWA didn’t ask to be part of that process, he pointed out.
But NWA chairman Mike Stowers questioned that, asking Crow if the language on the ballot specifically said the funds were to go to the JCWSA, or was more vague. Crow said that regardless of the exact ballot language, the JCWSA prepared documents about the projects to be done under SPLOST 6 for voters and that those documents were part of the legal process.
Crow also asked Bledsoe if the NWA had met with the JCWSA to discuss projects in the East Jackson area. Bledsoe admitted the groups had not met.
“I’m not sure why they have not, but the future will be different than the past 30 years,” he said. The two groups are slated to meet soon, he said.
JCWSA manager Eric Klerk said that the two groups had not met in at least 10 years. He also said that some of the projects the NWA wanted to do were already on the list to be done by the JCWSA.
Crow also asked Bledsoe why the NWA wanted to drill more wells when it could buy treated water from the JCWSA. Bledsoe said there were pressure problems with its JCWSA connection.
But that was news to Klerk.
“We didn’t know until now they have pressure problems,” he said. “We’re having to dump millions of gallons now and would like to sell to more customers in East Jackson.”
Crow echoed that idea.
“It’s not wise to dig more wells with the county having excess capacity (available),” he said.
Crow told Bledsoe that the two groups should meet to discuss the issues further. The BOC took no action on the request.
For the full story, see the March 23 issue of The Jackson Herald.