Liberty County has begun construction of a rural water system for residents in the Holmestown-Screven Fork area and those who live along Highway 84 from the Midway city limits to Highway 196. The well for the new system is at Joseph Miller Park and will draw water from the Miocene Aquifer, according to county officials.
Back in November 2013, the commission approved issuing a revenue bond for $1.04 million for the project. County Attorney Kelly Davis said revenue from the water system would repay the bond. The bond was validated by a superior court judge in December.
The county received $500,000 in Community Block Development Grants in 2012 for water and sewer improvements, in addition to a $3.2 million grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture and the $1 million low-interest loan.
Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown said $250,000 in SPLOST funds also went toward the cost of the water system.
County officials pushed for the rural water system for nearly 10 years, following a University of Georgia study that found hazardous well conditions in the area. The new system will provide water to residents with shallow wells. The UGA study identified some contamination issues, such as wells for drinking water being located too close to septic tanks. The Coastal Incentive Grant program funded the study.
Brown informed county commissioners during a regular meeting Thursday that new subscribers to the water system will pay a $250 fee. This payment will cover the cost of connecting to the system and a meter, the county administrator confirmed.
“Installation of lines to their homes will be the residents’ responsibility,” Brown said. “This rate of $250 is good until the construction period ends in approximately 15 months. After that time, the fee will be what the service contractor charges to actually do the work, which very likely will be more than $ 250.”
After the construction period ends, the cost to extend lines to residents’ homes likely will double, the county administrator added.
“The actual tap and meter fee will be based on the service contractor’s cost,” he said. “The resident will have to pay the cost of connections to the home, which (would be made) by a certified contractor of their choice at their expense.”
Brown explained the rural water system will be operated as a utility fund, meaning fees must be based on actual service-delivery costs, including indirect costs and capital replacements.
The county held town-hall meetings last fall and one last week at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway to inform area residents about construction on the new rural water system. Information on how to sign up for the service was offered.
Brown told commissioners that the contractor said once work visibly began on the project, a number of residents approached utility workers and asked about connecting to the water system.
According to information posted on the county’s website, libertycountyga.com, monthly water-system billing rates will be determined at a later date based on the number of users. The more residents who connect to the system, the lower monthly water bills will be, according to a flier on libertycountyga.com.
In addition, residents can keep individual private wells for irrigation and outdoor watering uses, according to the site.