Water supply in good shape
Cornish Creek treatment plant expansion nearly complete

COVINGTON - Newton County's water supply is in good shape and the expansion of Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant will be completed in a few months, Water Resources Director Karl Kelley told the Board of Commissioners at its Tuesday night meeting.

Newton County has a 301-day supply of water at Lake Varner, based on the volume of water remaining - 2.95 billion gallons - and the average daily production of 9.85 million gallons, Kelley said.

That number is based on the water in Lake Varner alone and does not include City Pond and production at the Williams Street Plant.

"All in all, we're in good shape," Kelley said, noting that the water supply dwindled to less than 200 days during the drought.

Lake Varner is at 697 feet, which is 4.1 feet below full pool. That's 1.2 feet higher than it was last year and 1.4 feet higher than it was in 2007.

Still, total water production, from both Cornish Creek and Williams Street, has seen a marked increase since watering restrictions were relaxed in June, Kelley said.

Production was averaging more than 14 million gallons per day (mgd) before restrictions were implemented in summer 2007 and have hovered between 9 and 11 mgd since. But once restrictions were relaxed, production spiked to nearly the 2007 levels, he said.

In related news, construction of the $12 million expansion to the Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant, which began in August 2008, is on schedule, Kelley said.

The substantial completion date, or the date when the plant can begin producing water with approval from the state Environmental Protection Division, is Nov. 17, with final completion to come in February. Final completion means all punch list items, from painting to planting grass, have been completed.

Four change orders have been approved during construction, with two deductions and two increases. The project stands about $28,000 over budget.

"Four change orders worth a net total of about $30,000 on a $12 million project is pretty minor," Kelley said.

The expansion will upgrade the plant's capacity from 15 to 25 mgd.

Walton County is paying for 25 percent of the expansion cost and is entitled to 25 percent of production, purchased at a reduced rate. Currently, Walton is entitled to 3.75 million gallons per day. Once the expansion is complete, it will be entitled to a total of 6.25 million gallons per day.

Walton officials have indicated they may buy more than the entitlement in the future, and if they choose to do so, they would buy it at the regular customer rate, and the extra revenue could reduce production costs for Newton County, Kelley said.

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