Con­sul­tants: Bear Creek re­serv­ior not needed cur­rently

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­news.com

New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers took ad­vice from an out­sider’s point of view - or a sky­scraper’s point of view – on what to do about the county’s drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply in a work ses­sion on the pro­posed Bear Creek reser­voir Thurs­day night.

“We have taken a look at that project, the his­tory of it and so forth, from about 10,000 feet in the air, we haven’t dug down into the meat and pota­toes of it as much as prob­a­bly if the com­mis­sion de­cided to move for­ward with it,” Con­sul­tant Nick Og­den, owner of Og­den & As­so­ci­ates, said.

Og­den told the com­mis­sion­ers that the first step would be for the county to de­ter­mine a “need and pur­pose.”

“Your need and pur­pose is paramount in the pro­cess, be­cause if you do not have a need or if you do not have a pur­pose that is the end of it and the Corp (Army Corps of En­gi­neers) will send it back to you,” he said. “You just won’t get the per­mit for any­thing.”

It will take about two years to get a per­mit once the need and pur­pose have been es­tab­lished and 10 to 15 years to build a reser­voir. Og­den said, from his anal­y­sis, the county could be in need in about 28 years, giv­ing the county about a dozen years to as­sess county wa­ter needs.

Rick White­side, of Cor­blu Ecol­ogy Group, es­ti­mated the cost of a reser­voir be­ing any­where from $ 90 mil­lion to $ 140 mil­lion, which did not in­clude the cost of a wa­ter treat­ment plant.

Dis­trict 3 Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz said both Og­den and White­side made it clear, along with other stud­ies, that the county’s best op­tion would be to con­tinue to main­tain and up­grade the county’s cur­rent wa­ter treat­ment in­fra­struc­ture rather than mov­ing for­ward with a reser­voir.

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