COVINGTON -- Two pavilions will soon be in place at Lake Varner for public enjoyment.
The Board of Commissioners approved at its Sept. 18 meeting a bid of $40,977 by Paul Kent Construction Company to construct the pavilions, which will be paid for out of the water fund.
"This is something we've wanted to do for quite some time," said Jason Nord, facility plant manager at Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant. "We've noticed a lot more calls for places for larger groups to gather, family reunions, church groups. Other pavilions around the county stay packed, they're booked every weekend."
There haven't been any upgrades to park facilities at Lake Varner in more than 20 years, Nord added.
"It was time. We really needed to spruce it up and make it nicer, do upgrades. Fortunately, we're in a position with water sales to be able to afford to do this."
One pavilion will be handicap accessible and will be near the playground and restroom area and the other will be near the overlook area, Nord said.
The pavilions will be available to large groups by reservation, requiring a refundable deposit and a usage fee. Those fees have not yet been determined, Nord said. When the facilities are not reserved for large groups they will be available to smaller groups of the general public on a first-come, first served basis.
Eventually, water and power will be available at the pavilions, but that's not a part of the construction contract; that will be done in-house to save money, Nord said.
Nord said he expects the pavilions to be in place by mid-November.
In other news, the BOC tabled a request to apply for a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for solar powered reservoir circulators, also known as solar bees, for Lake Varner and City Pond.
Solar bees are a green technology that will help to oxygenate the water to improve quality of water in the lake and reduce the amount of chemicals needed for treatment, Nord said. The improvement in water quality would also benefit wildlife and fishing, he said.
According to a project description on file with the county, the water production demand at the treatment plant combined with area rainfall contributes to a water age in Lake Varner from 30 days to more than a year.
The lake has experienced problems with blue-green algae in recent years, which can contribute to taste and odor problems in drinking water and be potentially toxic to fish and wildlife, according to the document. It has been verified that there are high levels of toxins in Lake Varner that have been identified by environmentalists as causing neurological problems with some bird species, according to the document.
The estimated cost for delivery, installation and start-up of the solar bees is $810,98.20. Commissioners have tabled the request to do more research and "make sure we get our money's worth out of it," Nord said.