The Coosa Valley Water Supply District received affirmation from city councils in Springville and Pell City, as well as the St. Clair County Commission — all of those entities approved a resolution for funding commitments to the project at separate meetings.
“Water is a very dire need for this area,” commissioner Paul Manning said Tuesday. “We’re all trying to work for the future and give the people of this county the best possible future we can give them.”
The three entities — along with the city of Odenville — agreed as part of the contract to pay an equal share of the bond debt for creation of a treatment plant along the Coosa River (the exact cost is unknown but was estimated at roughly $32 million Monday night in Springville). The payments — which will not start until the plant is operational, or more than two years from now — will be made over a 30-year period out of revenues from the sale of 750,000 gallons of water per day, to which all four partners in the district are entitled.
Springville public works director Earl Peoples – the city’s representative on the CVWSD board — told his council that connection to the water supply is vital to the growth of the city.
“We’ve got five different subdivisions that are just out there waiting right now,” he said. “When the economy starts recovering and construction starts back up, the spring won’t support the town’s water needs.
“Every seven or eight years, we go into a drought. During the last one, we nearly pumped the spring dry.”
During a public hearing Monday night, several Springville residents voiced concerns about selling the water and the possible effect on the water rates of citizens. Mayor William Isley said the city is already increasing water rates by 45 percent over the next three years; Peoples said the increases are necessary.
“The more water we can sell, the more the price will go down,” he said. “Our rates may increase a little, but that’s just the price we’re going to have to pay not to have to go on water restrictions anymore.”
On Tuesday, commission chairman Stan Batemon said the parties involved would have to do “some political work” to sell ordinary citizens on the project.
“The reality is that water is the cheapest part of a water system,” he said. “If the water were to increase four times higher, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’d see that kind of increase in your water rates.
“At most, you might see a small increase in your water rates, but rates go up all the time anyway. At least if you’re paying a little bit more, you can wash your car the next time we have a drought.”
The county still has to resolve a few other issues, specifically operating and maintenance costs coming from the commission of roughly $5 million over the next 10 years, as well as a possible subsidy from the county to prevent a dramatic jump in rate increases.
“This (vote) is not the end of the story,” Batemon said.
A public hearing will take place at the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 13 — citizens wishing to understand more about the project are encouraged to attend.