Oxford may extend water service
Airport Road residents could benefit

COVINGTON - The city of Oxford and Newton County will be partnering to get water to Airport Road residents, but only if they want it and are willing to pay tap fees.

The proposed venture is the result of a request by residents living along Airport Road and Danielle Drive, who told District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson they were having trouble getting adequate water from their wells.

"Sometimes if their neighbor is taking a shower, they can't get any water," Henderson told county commissioners at their March 3 meeting.

"It's a bad feeling when you're trying to turn the tap on and you can't get water or the amount of water that you want," he added.

So Henderson approached Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority to find a solution.

County commissioners agreed to share the cost of installing a water line with the city of Oxford, whose service area extends outside the city limits to the Airport Road area.

According to preliminary engineering estimates, the total cost would be $36,500. If six residents agree to pay the $2,730 tap fee per property owner, that would leave a balance of $20,120, with Oxford and the county to pay $10,060 each.

Commissioners approved funding up to that amount, but Roseberry said the city of Oxford is waiting to see how many residents agree to tap on.

"If we've only got one or two people who want water, there's no way we can economically run a line out there," he said.

Seven property owners signed a petition that is being circulated by Henderson, but did not commit to paying tap fees.

Roseberry said there are about 12 to 15 properties along Airport Road that could potentially benefit.

Oxford has already spent $11,500 to complete a portion of the new line up to Danielle Drive, but did not go further because no residents tapped on, he said.

Only the Airport Road area is under consideration at this time, he said, noting that to extend service to both Airport Road and Danielle Drive residents would cost in excess of $200,000.

The Oxford City Council would have final approval of any agreement with Newton County, and Roseberry said he believes the council is willing if residents who will benefit are ready to pay.

"If the citizens of Oxford have to pay for it ... we've got to have a return on our money. We've got to do maintenance on it as well. We expect to get our money back from the people who sign up for service," Roseberry said.

The county would pay its portion through the water fund, which generates revenues through the wholesale water rates charged to local municipalities, the Water and Sewerage Authority, as well as Walton and Jasper counties, which purchase a small amount of capacity from Newton County.

The fund pays for the water treatment plant, bond issues and sometimes water lines that will generate more water sales, according to Newton County Administrative Officer John Middleton.

In this case, the retailer would be the city of Oxford, which would purchase the water at the wholesale rate from the county.

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