Residents of the Pigeon Creek subdivision off Shoal Creek Road have waited a long time for their issues with city water to be resolved.
The residents first complained of foul-smelling water in their neighborhood as far back as 2009, reporting that the well water had a sulfuric odor. Tests indicated the presence of iron bacteria, but there was never a cause for concern about the health and safety of those who consume it.
Eventually improper pump installation was deemed to be a contributor to the odor, and the city shut down the well last summer. The city has been supplying the neighborhood with water through alternative sources and wells in the area ever since.
Some Pigeon Creek residents presented a petition in August that stated their intention to convert their water system from the city to the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, in order to save the city the hassle of fixing the well.
The city council in turn asked that the neighborhood give the city time to fix the issue before going down that road.
According to Brooke Anderson, EWSA general manager, the water and sewer authority had put a line up Hwy. 136 to Shoal Creek Road five years earlier, but without a letter from the city stating Etowah could service Pigeon Creek, the authority cannot extend a line down to service those customers.
The city has continued to try and fix the well, and according to City Manager Bob Bolz, a new pump for the well has been ordered. The pump must still be installed and the water tested before the future of the well is decided.
Currently the city is looking to improve its entire water system, and has received bids for system improvements that include repainting existing water tanks, replacing water lines and constructing a new well.
The improvements would be paid for by a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan and through SPLOST funds.
The construction cost for repainting the tanks and replacing the water lines is around $566,000. The estimated cost to construct the new well is $800,000. Including contingencies and other costs, the total estimated project cost is $1,566,000.
The work on the tanks and water lines has been bid out and the recommended contractors are Tank Pro and Townley Construction, respectively. The city's engineering partner Turnipseed has recommended that the city consider Townley Construction in division 1 of the well construction for $117,800 and PF Moon and Company in division 2 of the well construction for $682,000.
City Manager Bob Bolz said the new well will be located off Cleve Wright Road. The city council could vote on April 3 to accept the bids from Tank Pro, Townley Construction and PF Moon and Company, and the work start date will be pending on GEFA issuing the loans.
The city is also applying for a $569,000 loan from GEFA to cover the replacement of water meters, as the city wishes to install radio-read meters throughout its service area. The city bid out the work and Turnipseed has recommended that the city use M&E Construction.
According to the M&E bid, the company can do the work for a little over $465,000.
Despite the city's efforts to improve the quality of their wells, the EWSA have been considering running a line into Pigeon Creek to service the citizens there ever since the issue with the city well arose.
At the authority's latest meeting on March 14, the board discussed continuing with plans to run a water line down Shoal Creek Road from the line previously put in on Hwy. 136.
Anderson presented a few options to the board that included the possibility of running another line down from Shoal Creek to Pigeon Creek.
After much discussion, the board voted to lay a 2-inch line that does not connect to Pigeon Creek. The work will be done by the authority and cost around $16,000, as opposed to double that price if done through a contract.
The authority will still have the option to run a line down to Pigeon Creek if and when the city decides to give up the territory.
For right now, the new line will serve three customers, including Shoal Creek Motor Supply and a property owner whose well has dried up.
Atlanta Motorsports Park to explore drilling new well
Also at their March 14 meeting the board considered running a water line down Gold Mine Road, Nugget Ridge and Duck Thurmond Road to Hwy. 53. Running that line would cost between $1.2 and $1.5 million.
Due to a lack of interest from Duck Thurmond residents,the board decided not to pursue running the line at this time.
The board also discussed the future of one of the road's residents, the Atlanta Motorsports Park.
Members of the authority had previously met with Jeremy Porter, the park owner, who is looking to create a community well system that would be permitted through the Environmental Protection Division.
Anderson said that the park has a lot of plans for garage condos, more garages, a clubhouse for the go-kart facility and a small restaurant, making a community well system feasible.
Porter would have to get the permission from the authority to develop the system because it is in the authority's service area. Anderson estimated it would cost the park between $30,000 and $40,000 to drill a new well.
The board debated several options, including entering into an agreement with the park to service the well and eventually connecting the park to a potential line on Duck Thurmond. In the end, the board voted to give the motorsports park permission to explore well location, depth and quality for a community well system and report the findings back to the authority.
Exploration approval does not include permission to develop, own or operate a private community well system. That decision will depend on the results of the exploration and must be approved by the authority.