One of the first major decisions of 2013 for Barrow County’s new administration — and for Winder’s leaders — is whether to spend more than $2 million to get a state permit for a new water reservoir in the county.
Three months ago, the Barrow County Water & Sewerage Authority was notified that its application for a $2.1 million low-interest loan had been approved for studying the need for an additional water supply such as the proposed Rocky Creek Reservoir. The funds are to come from the Governor’s Water Supply Program and to be paid back over 10 years.
The WSA called a meeting with county and Winder officials Dec. 20 to discuss whether to accept the loan by the March deadline. It would be the first long-term financial obligation for the proposed reservoir and county officials are looking for buy-in from Winder, which controls two-thirds of the water service area in this county.
But a central question during and after the meeting is one that no one at this point can answer: When will this community actually need the additional millions of gallons of daily water capacity from a new reservoir?
The thinking up until now has been that the construction of the Rocky Creek Reservoir would be the best way to secure a future water supply for Barrow County. But Winder and Auburn already are exploring other options for water supplies, and Auburn also received a loan offer for its project. In addition, the county at this point is only withdrawing a portion of its allotment from the Bear Creek Reservoir it jointly owns with other counties. Also, the recession has thrown off by many years the population forecasts establishing the need for Rocky Creek project.
Incoming Barrow County Board of Commissioners chairperson Pat Graham has asked the WSA’s consultant, Scott Cole, to make a presentation at the BOC’s Jan. 22 work session.