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Area water woes not just from drought
Disputes cropping up over who provides water
Former Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe speaks at an earlier event. - photo by Courier file photo
A powerful group of local officials met last week to attempt to solve problems surrounding Midway’s plans for annexation.
Not only did they not complete the details needed to proceed with Midway’s planned annexation or agree on providing water-sewer service to the now-suspended Sawgrass development, they also acknowledged they faced more difficult problems in coastal and state wide water plans.
Outgoing Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe, also a member of the Liberty County Development Authority, one of the three bodies meeting together Thursday, pointed out state water withdrawal permits — public and private — may soon be rolled back to their 2004 pumping levels.
This move could have serious consequences for development in the coastal area, Ratcliffe said, especially in places such as Walthourville that is already pumping more water than it is permitted.
Another consideration, he said, is a 5 million gallon allocation to be divided between Liberty and Bryan counties.
Ratcliffe said, “The chairman (Liberty Commission Chairman John McIver) and I have asked Brother Burnsed (Bryan Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed) several times to just split it down the middle, and he laughs, but he has not agreed.”
Ratcliffe and others pointed out Liberty County would need to have a well-thought-out, organized plan dealing with all elements of water usage and conservation to justify future state water allocations that are necessary for growth.
Recurring to the Midway annexation topic, Midway Mayor Don Emmons said the term “Sawgrass” did not belong in the agreement: “We are annexing Sawgrass. Sawgrass will be part of Midway. The agreement should deal with Midway.”
But an unidentified voice from the group of officials said, “”Sawgrass is the reason we’re here.”
Scott Ronning, managing partner of the parent company of Sawgrass, has said, “We are very unhappy with the way the county has conducted this business.”
Although no votes were taken, McIver reminded the group the LCDA had already given its chairman authority to sign intergovernmental agreements that might resolve the impasse.
Apparently, neither the development authority, the Midway City Council or the county commission provided the public notice of their meetings that is required by Georgia’s Open Records Act.
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