Slow growth easing demand for Calhoun County Water Authority, new well to provide a backup
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Nov 04, 2013 | 2989 views |  0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A well under construction on Grayton Road in Ohatchee will give the Calhoun County Water Authority a backup water source, and the board hopes for a return to growing demand.

“We’re always looking for a different water source,” said Echols Bryant, chairman of the Authority Board. “But we’re in pretty good shape right now.”

The authority may be in good shape today, but in 2007 the three streams that fed the system – Read’s Mill Spring, Seven Springs and Webster’s Chapel Spring – were at record-low levels due to drought. Outdoor water use was banned for all authority customers until drought conditions improved.

To help prevent such a shortage in the future, officials had a well constructed in Webster’s Chapel in 2011, Bryant said. The authority also buys water from the water boards in Oxford and Anniston to supply approximately 10,100 customers.

Calhoun County’s growth has slowed in recent years, which has lessened the demand for water since 2007 by reducing the number of new customers, Bryant said.

“At that time, the county was really growing,” he said, with new subdivisions sprouting up across the authority’s service area.

According to the Census Bureau, the county’s population grew by about 7,000 residents from 2000 to 2010. In contrast, the county’s population decreased by 1,276 residents from 2010 to 2012, according to Census Bureau estimates, dropping from 118,572 to 117,296.

“Until we start another building boom in Calhoun County, we’re in pretty good shape,” Bryant said.

The approximately $1 million well in Ohatchee will be used to supplement existing water sources and to supply water when the authority makes repairs to other areas of the system, Bryant said.

The authority is accepting bids through Nov. 6 for completion of the well, which includes installation of a pump and about 1,500 feet of water line. The project is being paid for with money in the authority’s reserves, Bryant said.

In addition to the new wells in Ohatchee and Webster’s Chapel, the authority operates a 6 million gallon-per-day filtration plant in Wellington, and stores water in 19 tanks spread across the board’s service area.

A drop in new home construction in recent years has also slowed the number of new water customers for the Jacksonville Water Works, Gas and Sewer Board, said office manager Michael Rinker.

The number of new homes constructed in Jacksonville in 2007 was 48, according to the Alabama Center for Real Estate. In 2012 that number was seven. There were five new homes built in Jacksonville through August of this year.

The Jacksonville board served 4,553 water customers last month, Rinker said, with water supplied from pumping stations at Germania Springs and Big Springs, in addition to water purchased from the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board.

Ed Turner, general manager for the Anniston board, said the customer base has remained largely unchanged since 2007.

“Whatever we lose we gain,” Turner said.

The board currently serves about 20,000 customers with water from Coldwater Springs and the Hillabee and Sam H. Hamner Reservoirs.

In addition to selling water to Calhoun County and Jacksonville, the Anniston board sells to Weaver, Heflin, Hobson City and Haralson County, Ga.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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