The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 26, 2013

Water authority board tables pipeline decision

By Karen Middleton

— Thursday, the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority tabled a vote to authorize installation of a $10 million pipeline under the Tennessee River to pump enough water from the city of Decatur to meet growth needs.

Board Chairman Jim Moffatt said, “We need more time to consider this.”

Board member Johnny Hatchett echoed Moffatt’s recommendation and motioned for the measure to be tabled for further study.

“We need to look at both sides of this and be responsible to our customers,” said Hatchett. “We owe it to them to gather more information and study this diligently.”

Limestone has said it needs 10-million gallons of water a day to meet growth needs in the southern and eastern parts of the county. The authority already purchases 1.5 million gallons a day from Decatur and the Decatur City Council has approved the sale of the additional water once the pipeline is constructed.

Members of the water authority have met at least four times with Athens officials, who say they can supply all the water the county needs for the next 15 years without the authority having to go out of county.

Decatur, which has a 68-million-gallon-a-day capacity plant and is largely free from debt service, can offer water to Limestone at a much lower rate than Athens. But some officials question if the cheaper water justifies the $10-to-$11-million expenditure for the pipeline plus an estimated $4 million for a pumping station.

Moffatt said he would call an information-sharing work session sometime within the next two weeks to study the matter further.