The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 23, 2013

Water board to vote on pipeline Sept. 5

By Karen Middleton

— Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority Chairman Jim Moffatt on Thursday said it’s “abhorrent” to continue to do nothing about deciding whether to extend a $10 million pipe under the Tennessee River and build a $4 million pumping station.

Moffatt says an industry being discussed with recruiter Tom Hill would use 1.3 million gallons of water a day, and “We will furnish water to that.”

Acting on a motion by board member Mike Hardaway, the water board approved setting a Sept. 5 special called meeting to bring the measure to a vote.

The board will call a special work session between now and Sept. 5, inviting the Limestone County Commission, Athens city government officials and Athens Water and Wastewater Department Manager John Stockton to sit down for a final hashing out of options before the vote.

New board member Ty Smith cast the single vote against setting the special meeting.

“I want another engineering opinion (before making a decision),” said Smith.

“If we go forward in two weeks with a vote, there is no time for another engineering opinion,” said board member Johnny Hatchett.

Moffatt said, “The truth of the matter is that we will probably be buying from Athens, Decatur and Huntsville for the next generation. The decision I’m making now will affect my grandchild.”

Moffatt further said he has complete faith in the Brentwood, Tenn., engineering firm of Hethcoat & Davis that has worked with Limestone water for 19 years.

“I will depend on this firm that we have trusted for years,” said Moffatt. “I haven’t seen anything coming from Hethcoat & Davis that is wrong. If those (numbers) are shown to be wrong, then we have a foundational problem. I say let’s get it done and stop sitting on it.

“Huntsville is building a five-lane highway through undeveloped land in Limestone County and that is our area to serve.”

Moffatt said he would be releasing to the press and all interested parties today by 11:30 a.m. a comparative cost analysis of all the options on the table for meeting Limestone County water needs.

“Information has been provided to the press that is terribly wrong and one-sided,” said Moffatt.

Moffatt asked board attorney Mike Cole if he could release a statement detailing information available to the whole board. Cole said there would be no problem with doing so.

Moffatt said today’s statement would be signed by him alone and would not be from the entire water board. He said if the press does not print sufficient information, he would ask for funding to purchase a display advertisement to run the entire statement.

A News Courier Aug. 11 editorial asked the water board to provide a comparative table showing why it would be more advantageous to pay at least $14 million in infrastructure to pipe water from Decatur.

An opinion question posted on the News Courier website asked the public to respond on whether Limestone should work with Athens on finding solutions to county water needs or purchase water from out of county. The results showed 85 percent of respondents wanted the county to work with Athens.

County water department General Manager Byron Cook said his office hasn’t had the opportunity to rebut published information.

Look for a News Courier follow-up story to this report in Sunday’s edition.