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IDA trying to get I-16 water flowing

POSTED: July 25, 2007 5:03 a.m.

The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, county commissioners and Springfield are trying to solve the conundrum of how to provide water to the DP Partners tracts straddling I-16.

Springfield and the IDA have discussed that city providing water capacity to the I-16 tract. Springfield has broached taking 450,000 gallons of its water withdrawal capacity out of the state Environmental Protection Division’s red zone, that area where the EPD has capped pumping water out of the Floridan aquifer. Springfield wants to retain 250,000 gallons of the 450,000 it is returning to the EPD for use at the I-16 project. That water would be drawn from a well at the Meldrim area tracts.

“That water is already permitted,” said IDA board member and Springfield City Council member Charles Hinely. “We’re just moving it from one body to another.”

He also said EPD liaison Jeff Larson has guaranteed the I-16 park will be allotted 150,000 gallons of water.

The terms for putting in the well will be outlined in an intergovernmental agreement between the IDA and the county. It is estimated the site will need 150,000 gallons of water a day. Originally, the county had only 60,000-80,000 gallons per day to offer.

The IDA and the county are in talks for the county to design a well and tank, with a four-month window for it to be designed.

A well is seen as more cost effective than extending surface water lines to the I-16 tract now. Drilling a well and putting up a tank would cost between $800,000-$900,000 while putting the lines could cost up to $9 million.

“Everyone agrees a well is the quickest way,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said.

Quicker is better, especially with DP Partners chomping at the bit to get started. Running surface water lines to that area — which could happen eventually — could take two to three years.

“We have got to go to I-16 and put in water, be it ground water or surface water,” Henry said. “I think it’s a win-win to get surface water down there.”

Plans for the two tracts also include a wastewater treatment plant, with tertiary treatment, “the cleanest you can get,” Henry said.

Once the well is in, however, the IDA doesn’t want to be in charge of operating it.

“We don’t want to be in the water business,” Henry said.

“All we want is water to the industrial site,” Hinely said. “All we were after is 150,000 guaranteed gallons. We don’t need to be maintaining a water or sewer system.”

The IDA is expected to send to the EPD a packet with the applications from the county and Springfield for water usage and the intergovernmental agreements between the IDA and the county and city.

“If we wait another couple of more months, the EPD-Springfield deal is out the window,” Henry warned. “We can’t afford another month.

“I just want the water moved over there so we can get DP Partners off the ground.”

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