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Oxford seeks to repair old water lines

OXFORD-- The city of Oxford isn't giving up on its aging water system.

The City Council members voted unanimously during its monthly meeting on Monday night to authorize Mayor Jerry Roseberry to request that the Newton County Board of Commissioners include the replacement of Oxford's main water lines in the proposed March 2011 SPLOST. Council member James Windham was absent from the meeting.

"They are in desperate need to be replaced," Roseberry said on Wednesday. "It's quite a big project that needs to be done."

He said the water lines, which are on Emory and Asbury streets, are about 80 years old and made out of cast iron pipe, which rusts away over time.

"They're prone to leak a lot. It's pretty frequent we have to go in there and replace a section of pipe because of age," Roseberry said. "There's been a lot of work done, but they've never been replaced."

The project is estimated to cost $1,037,214. Roseberry said the lines would have to be replaced and moved to under the sidewalks because the Department of Transportation doesn't allow lines under highways anymore and that is where these are placed.

By Dec. 3, Oxford must request that the Board of Commissioners place the project on the SPLOST, a 1 percent countywide sales tax used to fund capital outlay projects and pay down general obligation debt. If the board approves the project it will be placed on the ballot that residents will vote on in March and, if approved, will be implemented starting in July.

"We'll probably still have to use a low-interest loan (to pay for the water line project) because you don't get SPLOST money all at once," Roseberry said.

He expects the project would start in about two years.

This isn't the first time Oxford has sought assistance in replacing the lines.

"We have inquired about grant money in the past ... and we've been told nothing is available right now," Roseberry said. "If we don't get this, we'll have to find some other way to do it. ... Hopefully the citizens will approve this."