The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 11, 2013

Water Authority should draw from deep local well

The News Courier

— The Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority is mulling over a decision on whether to build a $10 million water pipeline under the Tennessee River and $4 million pumping station to draw water from Decatur.

One official said recently the authority needs to decide on an additional water source soon because the county is at 90-percent capacity and that doesn’t provide any cushioning to recruit new industry or expanded growth.

At the same time, Athens Water Department Manager John Stockton says he has all the water the authority would need in the next few years, and a joint effort to expand intake and treatment capabilities at the city’s Elk River plant could ensure enough water well into the future for both the city and county.

With a total indebtedness of $67.3 million, we would encourage the authority to think seriously about joining forces with the city of Athens in its effort to upgrade water supplies.

The county can buy water cheaper from Decatur than from Athens, but when the cost of new infrastructure is added into the equation, it would seem prudent for the county to see what the city brings to the table.

It’s time for the authority to provide a comparative table showing why it would be a financial advantage to choose the Decatur plan.

The two entities have had some territorial disputes in the past but it’s time to work together. With municipalities having annexed Limestone land from the south and east, it’s long past time for local utilities to join forces as a bulwark against these encroachments by providing its citizens the incentives they need to refuse annexation.

Limestone is not an island — it has to get along with its neighbors — but why knock on those neighbors’ doors for resources if there are plenty at home?