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County faces well problem at annex
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A failing well for the Effingham County annex is leading commissioners to wonder what to do about it.

A small well that provides drinking water for the annex, on Highway 119, is in bad shape, according to county engineer Steve Liotta.

“You can’t drink the water,” said interim county administrator David Crawley. “The casing on the well lets dirt into the water. There are some pressure issues.”

The county could connect to Springfield’s water system, but commissioners instructed county staff to put together numbers on a new well.

“Let’s just look at some other options,” Commissioner Hubert Sapp said.

Liotta said county staff looked at options, including putting in another well. Springfield’s water line is 350 feet away and the cost to tap into it would be $12,250, or the cost of seven equivalent residential units. The county annex is, Liotta said, “square in the Springfield service delivery area.”

According to Liotta, Springfield would charge for materials and the remainder of the installation would be done by county crews.

“It’s a very good estimate on their part,” he said.

The county paid $35,000 to put in the original well, and the state Environmental Protection Division doesn’t like having another water system when municipal water is readily available, Liotta said.

Wells that serve fewer than 25 people aren’t mandated for EPD. But there are  more than 25 people at the annex and renovating the well would mean having to get an EPD permit, Liotta said.

“And those would be roadblocks, not speedbumps,” he said.

Springfield would charge the county standard water rates, Liotta said. The county currently spends about $250 to $325 a month on water at the new courthouse and from $1,000 to $1,500 for water at the sheriff’s complex and jail.

“So either we put in a well, the right kind of well, or we connect to the Springfield system,” Crawley said. “Ever since I’ve worked for the county, we’ve talked about replacing that well.”

Crawley said the county tries to get people to connect to the county-owned water system when possible rather than sinking their wells.

“We argue the benefit to them is that they don’t have to worry about water quality and they don’t have to worry about maintenance,” he said. “We’re kinda in the same position here.”

The nearby Effingham County Recreation and Parks has its own well, but it serves less than 25 people. Tying it into the annex would mean a state review of that well.