The Springfield City Council approved a bid Tuesday night for a water line to run to Effingham County High School, pending approval from the Effingham County Board of Education.
Public Works Director Lowell Morgan told the council the low bid was $457,663. Morgan said he and Councilman Dennis Webb have been talking to the school board, and a draft agreement should be ready at the next council meeting.
“I recommend that we approve the bid so we can notify the contractor that he is the low bidder and gets the job subject to approval by the school board,” Morgan said.
Webb abstained from voting on the bid for the contract. His family owns land on Highway 119.
“The project’s good, the project’s solid,” he said, “but I will abstain from voting on this because of that. I totally support the project. It is good for the board of education, and it will also be good for the city of Springfield.”
Councilman Max Niedlinger asked Mayor Barton Alderman if he should abstain as well since he works for the board of education.
If Niedlinger had abstained, it would have left only two voting members — Councilmen Kenny Usher and Ron Boatright were both absent. In order for a vote to be held, three council members must participate.
Webb stepped down from his seat during the discussion for a a request from Tim Lan Corp. for water service because he is a part owner in the project that was discussed.
Morgan told the council he was asked by EPD officials if the city was planning on providing water to the development planned for Highway 119, and Morgan said the city was not because the city does not have the water allocation.
“Having talked with Dennis, he said they didn’t want to do that,” Morgan said. “He didn’t want to do that simply because of complications.”
Morgan said he was told it is customary that EPD will not approve a private water system when there is a municipal system that runs on the road.
Morgan said there has been a proposal that the developers put a well in and give it to Springfield.
“They planned to put a well in and furnish water as a private system in the subdivision,” he said. “They didn’t want the project delayed waiting on a water line.”
Morgan said EPD has told the city to take over the well, and since it will be north of Highway 119, the city will get allocation for the water that will be supplied to the development.
“I don’t have a preference. I don’t have a recommendation for you,” he said. “If they put in the well and hand it to us, they don’t want an impact fee, and I can understand that. The other side of the coin is I think this will eventually be tied into our water system. It would be foolish to operate something within two or three hundred feet as a separate system and not tie it in as backup.
“I have been one that has always said EPD needs to look at municipalities and not give people permits for wells right next door to us,” Morgan said. “If we’re going to run these municipal systems, those ought to be our customers, and that’s the way I feel. It might not be the way the developer feels. We’ve put out a lot of money to run this system.”
The water line extension will be across the highway from the development.
“When we applied for this system, it met EPD guidelines because we were two miles from any water line the city of Springfield owned,” Webb said. “We always intended to operate our own water system.”
Webb said when EPD found out about the water line extension the developers were sent a letter asking why they could not tie into the city’s water line. He said the developers told EPD that Springfield doesn’t have the capacity to serve the subdivision.
Webb said that was when the proposal was made for the developers to build the well and give it to the city.
“I still don’t understand a great deal of logic in us building a well right across the street from a water line, and then they offset the permit for the city of Springfield, and us give the well to the city of Springfield,” he said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Webb said it would make more sense to offset the permit and have the development tie into the water line, but that is not what EPD wants them to do.