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IDA approves revisions in water agreement
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has agreed to a revision in its intergovernmental agreement with Springfield for water in a deal that officials believe benefits the IDA, Springfield and the county.

As part of the IDA’s plan to provide water to its massive I-16 project, it will help Springfield with a new well that removes the city’s well from an area where water withdrawal is severely restricted.

“This appears to be one of the best instances of working together for the common good,” IDA Chairman Chap Bennett said. “The IDA, county, Springfield and the (Environmental Protection Division) sat down and worked through some tough issues.”

Said IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry: “Anytime you get approval from the EPD and a commendation for working together, that’s quite a feat.”

Henry also said DP Partners, who is developing the I-16 tracts that are expected to provide between 2,000 and 5,000 jobs in the next decade, was thrilled with the concept.

Under the new agreement, Springfield’s 2004 water withdrawal capacity will be transferred to the county if the city moves its well north of Highway 119. The state Environmental Protection Division has capped water withdrawals on a line roughly south of Highway 119, which bisects the city. Cities and counties have until the end of the year to return to their 2004 withdrawal amounts. With the pact, the county can withdraw up to 436,000 gallons per day.

By moving the well a few hundred yards north to land the county owns, Springfield will remove its well from the so-called “red zone” into an area where water withdrawal limits are not capped.

The IDA has pledged $950,000 to the city for work needed to site the well, as well as another $1 million already committed to the city for work with the well and extending its lines.

But as part of the agreement, the county is picking up the cost of Moreland Altobelli’s work at the intersection of I-16 and Old River Road, estimated to be about $950,000.

“It was a timing and funding issue for Springfield,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said. “The cost of moving the well (300 yards) was exorbitant. That well’s got to be moved in 10 months. It’s got to happen quickly.”

The IDA is expected to get cost recovery on its first $1 million committed to Springfield. The total project will cost about $2.4 million.

Springfield still has to apply for a permit from the EPD for moving the well, Henry said.

“It’s a win-win for all,” said IDA member and Springfield city councilman Charles Hinely. “It works in everyone’s best interest.”

The deal also provides more water to the IDA’s existing industrial park on Highway 21. Should the new well and lines go in, the tank there will be used for fire suppression.