New school negotiating for sewer
City, WASA work on deal to provide service to area

COVINGTON - Officials with the city of Covington and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority are working on an agreement to provide sewer to property north of Covington Municipal Airport that is being targeted by the Newton County School System for a new school.

The property is part of hundreds of acres owned by the Industrial Development Authority along Airport Road and Ga. Highway 142. The Newton County School System would not provide details on the location that has been pinpointed for a new school or what grades the school would serve.

"The school system does not publicly discuss the acquisition of real estate until after the purchase, at which time any and all information is available to the public," Director of Public Relations Sherri Viniard said.

There is no sewer to that area, and it does not fall within any local utility's territory.

Covington officials are in talks with the Water and Sewerage Authority to find the most economical and effective way of providing sewer, according to WASA Executive Director Mike Hopkins.

The area is already within WASA's water service territory, and the simplest solution would be to include it in the sewer service area as well, Hopkins said.

"That way we don't have any future developers going to multiple entities for sewer and water," he said.

Officials have said the property is ripe for industrial growth, and at an April 6 City Council meeting, City Manager Steve Horton encouraged the council to participate in the cost to build a pump station and install a force main, saying it would be "an investment in economic development."

The cost is expected to run between $440,000 and $500,000.

In a letter to Hopkins dated April 8, Horton states that pending approval by the council, the city would fund one-fourth of that, at an expense not to exceed $125,000.

The hope is that the project would be jointly funded by WASA, the school system and the Industrial Development Authority, Hopkins said.

The idea for a gravity system was discarded after the price tag was estimated to run more than $2 million, Hopkins said.

WASA would collect tap fees and pay the city for treatment cost and capacity, Hopkins said.

With the sewage eventually running into the city's system and impacting capacity, the city would be owed tap fees which, based on the estimated total build-out of the property and current tap fee charges, would total $2.1 million.

If the city participates in the pump station and force main, that would be deducted from tap fee costs to WASA, reducing the amount to $1.97 million.

Hopkins said the WASA Board of Directors "has not made any substantial decisions" on the project. Research is still being done on how large the service area should be, he said.

The City Council is expected to take up the issue again at its Monday meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, located at 2194 Emory St..

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.