The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Progress 2012

February 29, 2012

City, county utilities look toward ambitious year

(Continued)

Limestone County Water & Sewer Authority

Also impacted by the severe weather of last year was the county’s water and sewer authority. The April 27 tornadoes damaged the roof of the Turner Treatment Facility on U.S. 31 in Tanner, but authority board chairman Jim Moffatt said repairs are being finalized.

“The community really pulled together for that,” he said. “Everybody lost power and we lost power, but we made a few phone calls and the National Guard came through with generators and fuel.”

Moffatt said the April 27 tornadoes actually pointed problems the authority had not anticipated, but officials found that prior emergency planning had paid off.

“We did find some things we could do better and have improved our plan,” he said.

In January, the authority finalized an agreement with the city of Huntsville to sell 7 miles of sewer line for a little more than $10 million. The agreement provided a nice payday to the authority for future improvements, giving Huntsville an in-road for future development in annexed portions of Limestone County.

And while Huntsville will be taking care of the sewage, water flowing into Huntsville’s residential, commercial and industrial developments will be provided by the Limestone County Water & Sewer Authority.

Moffatt said the authority is working closely with planning officials in Huntsville on site and road plans and wants to ensure both sides are on the same page.

“(Annexation) will mean more business for everybody, but the water lines weren’t placed in the ground by the good Lord,” he said. “We’ve still got to get the water into a drinkable form and that requires engineering and planning.”

Moffatt said one goal is to use the $10 million to upgrade water pipe to some parts of the county were service is poor. The authority developed a water model to keep track of areas most in need of an upgrade.

And despite having a debt in excess of about $60 million, Moffatt said, the water authority remains profitable and has an A+ bond rating. He said the authority has never missed a bond payment and is working to reduce the debt.

“Even with the downturn in the economy and the slowing of growth, we still have positive revenues every year,” he said. “Financially, we’ve got a very healthy bottom line.”

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