Residents along Nix Bridge Road will soon have the waterlines needed for improved fire safety, though there are no immediate plans by the county to move forward with installing fire hydrants.
Etowah Water and Sewer Authority's board of directors voted July 19 to lay 12-inch waterlines along the busy road, despite a May vote in which county commissioners opted against participating in a proposed fire prevention program that would have brought hydrants to the area.
General Manager Brooke Anderson said Etowah Water and Sewer will move forward despite the county's unwillingness to partner in a hydrant agreement.
"EWSA has decided to move forward with the foundational infrastructure charted by this agreement should the county decide to add the fire protection element in the future," he said. "EWSA's mission is to improve the quality of life for our customers, community and environment and this mission should be irrespective of politics."
Commissioners struck down the proposed intergovernmental agreement that suggested a partnership to lead the way for fire hydrants to be connected to waterlines in the area.
According to the initial proposal, the authority would install 12-inch waterlines if the county would pay $5,000 each for hydrants and sign a 25-year contract with the water authority.
After researching the request, District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby made a motion to counter the proposal with a $3,500 per hydrant cost and a five-year contract, saying he was not comfortable holding the county to a long-term deal that he described as writing Etowah a blank check.
Commissioners Julie Hughes Nix and Sharon Fausett also voted against the measure.
Anderson said the construction of a water distribution system includes the expanded water main size to accommodate fire protection flows, "should the county decide to implement a fire protection element, including fire hydrants, sometime in the future."
He said the authority will bear the cost, at this time, to increase the water main size to support fire protection by installing a 12" line on Nix Bridge Road as part of their water main replacement program.
"We will not be assuming the county's duty of fire hydrant installation; however, we will be laying the foundation so that they may be installed in the future should the county decide to approve the intergovernmental agreement at that time," Anderson said.
The possibility of revisiting the partnership is not dead, according to Nix.
"Some members of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners have expressed a willingness to revisit this topic and may be willing to compromise over the price and contract length with Etowah," she said earlier this summer.