Sunday, April 26, 2015

Oconee County Commissioners To Get An Update On Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Project

Follows Decision On Treatment Plant

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is scheduled to get an update on the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir from Project Manager Jimmy Parker.

The meeting will follow by one week the first concrete decision by the Management Board for the reservoir project to move forward with plans for design work on the water treatment plant.

Construction of the dam for the reservoir, in southeastern Walton County, is nearing completion, and the reservoir itself is expected to be at pool in 2017.

Oconee County and Walton County are partners in the project, and Parker is expected to update the full Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday on construction progress and future plans for the reservoir.

Among other items on the BOC agenda for Tuesday night is a revision of the Oconee County’s Water and Wastewater Systems Ordinance.

Follow To March Meeting

At its meeting last month, the Management Board had requested that Parker come back with a plan for how to move forward with design work for the water treatment plant.

The Board acknowledged that neither county needs the water from the reservoir at present, but Board members, and Parker, said it was important to be prepared in case an industrial user comes along demanding large amounts of water from either county.

Parker repeated that warning again at the meeting on Tuesday.

He said the goal was to proceed with some level of preliminary design “so that, should some catalyst such as a large industry locating in either county dictate that the project be accelerated or that production of water be accelerated it would put both counties in a lot more strategic position.”

No Rush

Parker acknowledged there is “no rush” in making a decision on design because the counties don’t need the water at present, but he said the slower pace would allow the counties to make good decisions on treatment technologies and location of plant components.

What he proposed, and what the Board approved, was appointment of a procurement committee to obtain the design services needed. His request and the Board action in response is shown in the video below.

OCO: Parker on Procurement Committee from Lee Becker on Vimeo

The procurement committee will consists of Kevin Little, Walton County Commission Chairman, Jim Luke, Oconee County Commissioner, and Brad Johnson, chairman of the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority.

The initial design work will focus on the water treatment plant itself and include process flow diagrams, sketches of building floor plans, and construction cost estimates.

Costs From Contingency Funds

Parker estimated the costs of the design work to be about $625,000 and the work itself to take six to eight months.

The costs would be covered by a reallocation of contingency funds, Parker said.

Earlier in the meeting Parker had presented a projection of overall costs for the projects showing it to be about $6.8 million under budget at this stage, reflecting significantly lower than expected land acquisition costs as well as other savings.

The Board did vote to spend an additional $140,000 for unbudgeted services by Schnabel Engineering because of construction delays by Layne Heavy Civil Inc., which has the $17.8 million contract for construction of the dam and reservoir.

This new allocation was on top of the $410,000 added to the Schnable contract in December of last year. The initial contract with Schnabel had been for $923,000, so the total fee after Tuesday’s vote will be $1,473,000.

Top Of Agenda

Parker’s visit to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will be at the front of the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Chris Thomas, director of the Oconee County Utility Department, is scheduled to present the updates to the Water and Wastewater Systems Ordinance in their official first reading. The second and final reading will be on May 5.

The 89-page document contains mostly minor changes, but Thomas singled out two of significance when he appeared before the Board on March 31.

The new ordinance specifies that a sewer connection fee is required of each metered customer before the connection is made. That fee is nonrefundable.

The county refunded a fee earlier this year because of ambiguities about when connection fees were collected.

Septic Failures

Thomas told the Board last month that he anticipates increasing problems with failed septic systems in the county as subdivisions age.

As of February 28, the county had only 2,034 sewer customers, with many of those being commercial. The majority of home owners rely on a septic system.

The ordinance to be considered Tuesday night states that “Any septic tank, privy or any other private sewage, industrial waste or liquid waste disposal system located on any premises that does not function in a sanitary manner shall be made to function in a safe and sanitary manner.”

The owner is required to submit a corrective plan for a failing system with 48 hours and must make the system “operationally safe” within 30 days.

“Failure to reasonably comply with remediation in a timely manner may result in other enforcement proceedings as determined suitable to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the county,” according to the proposed ordinance.

Video Recording

I was unable to attend the meeting last week of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board at the old Walton County Courthouse in Monroe.

Sarah Bell did attend and made the video recording from which the video clip above was taken.

The next meeting of the Management Board is scheduled for May 19 at the Courthouse in Monroe.

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