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IDA looks for ways to get water to project
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Having completed its deal with DP Partners to develop its land straddling I-16, the Effingham Industrial Development Authority is trying to live up to its end of the bargain.

The IDA has to find a way to get water and power lines across I-16 from the northern tract to the southern tract. The southern tract is being developed first.

Water lines crossing I-16 could mean the capability to provide water service to residents and areas on the southern side of the highway.

“We have to run water and sewer and power under I-16,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said.  “We’ll try to get them done at the same time.”

Work under I-16 is up to the federal government, since the interstate is part of the federal highway system. The IDA hasn’t decided if it will dig three separate lines or one large line for all three conduits.

The cost for doing so is expected to be $150,000 and the IDA had asked the county commissioners about cost recovery through impact fees for businesses in the southern tract served by the water and sewer lines. Because it’s a separate project from the county’s own water and sewer systems, those impact fees could not be used to repay the Georgian Environmental Facilities Authority loans for the current system.

Through its agreement with the county, the IDA will pay for a well to be designed and built by the county. The IDA also has explored how much help in cost recovery it can get from the county to extend those lines, since it plans to allow the county to use the water and sewer lines.

To get water to the south side, the IDA has entered into a series of intergovernmental agreements to get water rights transferred, since the IDA has no such power on its own. Those deals are subject to state Environmental Protection Division approval.

“It’s a very convoluted deal,” Henry said.

Said IDA Vice-Chairman Chap Bennett: “I love our agreement. It just can’t sit in Atlanta for 12 months. We have another agreement to live up to.”

Henry said he has called the EPD to see if they have everything, but Atlanta and north Georgia’s crisis has had them occupied.

“We don’t need to panic over what EPD is going to do out there,” he said.

But if the IDA’s plans to deliver water to the tract fall through, Henry said DP Partners still could find the water it needs for the development.

“DP could start talking to private water companies who have the capacity,” he said. “I have not talked to any private water utilities. But DP is smart enough to know what their options are.”