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Newton designated WaterFirst Community

Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum

Those who participated in the application and presentation to DCA that resulted in the WaterFirst designation include, left to right: Laurie Riley, director of Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful; David Croom, director of the Newton-Covington Land Application System; Bobby Snipes, assistant production manager for Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant; Lynn Parham, director of Newton GIS; Tres Thomas, city of Covington engineer, Mike Hopkins, executive director of Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority; Frank Turner, former Covington city manager; and Tim Thompson, manager of water and sewer construction for the city of Covington.

Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum Those who participated in the application and presentation to DCA that resulted in the WaterFirst designation include, left to right: Laurie Riley, director of Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful; David Croom, director of the Newton-Covington Land Application System; Bobby Snipes, assistant production manager for Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant; Lynn Parham, director of Newton GIS; Tres Thomas, city of Covington engineer, Mike Hopkins, executive director of Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority; Frank Turner, former Covington city manager; and Tim Thompson, manager of water and sewer construction for the city of Covington.

COVINGTON -- Newton County was recognized by the state for its water resource management Wednesday.

Newton was designated Georgia's 25th WaterFirst Community at a ceremony held at The Center. The county, its five municipalities and the Water and Sewerage Authority share in the designation.

Led by the Department of Community Affairs Office of Planning and Environmental Management, the WaterFirst Community Program is a voluntary partnership between local governments, state and federal agencies and other organizations working to improve the management and protection of shared water resources.

"Newton County joins an exclusive group of communities committed to water stewardship and resources management," said Jim Frederick, director of DCA's Office of Planning and Environmental Management. "Earning this designation took a lot of effort and teamwork. The staff, citizens and leaders of Newton County have proven that working together can have a big impact on the community's water resources."

Governments who achieve the WaterFirst designation are eligible for financial and other benefits from the state such as state-wide recognition for environmental stewardship; an interest rate reduction on loans made from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority's Georgia Fund; eligibility for annual applications to the Community Development Block Grant fund for water-related projects; and priority for a grant program through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Newton's WaterFirst program includes regional coordination of water resources, a community water education program, buffer requirements and water planning to ensure continued quality of water in the future.

Only 25 out of more than 600 Georgia communities have been designated as WaterFirst.

"This is not something we hand out to just anyone," said Deatre Denion, water conservation education and program coordinator.

Chairman Kathy Morgan was on hand to receive the award, along with Covington Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smith; Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry; Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman; Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan and Water and Sewerage Authority Director Mike Hopkins.

Morgan gave credit to staff who made the application and presentations.

"This was made possible by the people who work here. It's not anything (elected officials) have done at our level," she said, then added, "We support it."