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Newton water communication system needs update

COVINGTON — A collaborative funding effort is needed in order to replace Newton County’s main water communication system.

Covington City Council agreed to chip in and provide one-third of the funds only if it was supported by the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Newton County Water and Sewer Authority.

Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon said the total project could cost between $483,000 and $700,000.

The SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system helps control the various water levels in the tanks and also determines when to boost pumps or cut off water supply. However, the system is out of date and parts can no longer be purchased.

Assistant County Manager Tom Garrett said the system updates are needed because it’s not in compliance with the federal communication system.

“The SCADA system is the eyes and ears for controls of tank levels, pumps, pressure ratings and much more. It helps get a snapshot of what’s going on currently, but also tracks information over time to see how flows and pressures are doing to help moderate those levels,” Garrett said.

The city, county and NCWSA started discussing the upgrades two years ago, but couldn’t reach an agreement as to who would bear the costs.

Bouchillon said the parties involved regrouped about four months ago and are ready to put the project out to bid. The funding the city will provide ranges from $150,000 to $300,000.

Covington City Council members voted last week to accept the memorandum of understanding with the BOC and NCWSA, contingent upon all parties agreeing to split the costs.

“We’re taking a forward position but only if all three partner in this project,” Mayor Ronnie Johnson said.

Commissioners tabled the decision until June 3 due to the fact that the NCWSA planned to discuss its involvement on May 21.