There's a lot of "ifs" in the City of Harlem's request to purchase 600,000 gallons of water from the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission, according to one member of the panel.
Such a proposal also calls for a tie-in to the existing sewer system in the Town of Dearing.
The requests were mentioned during a meeting of the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission last Tuesday at Thomson City Hall. The meeting also allowed for joint meetings with City of Thomson officials, as well as officials of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners.
"The City of Harlem is anxious to buy the water," said Bob Flanders, retired Thomson city administrator.
Mr. Flanders pointed out that it would be necessary to sit down with Harlem officials to see exactly what would have to be done with both of Harlem's requests.
"I see a lot of ifs with this," said Thomson Mayor Bob Knox Jr., who also is a member of the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission. "We'll be glad to help, but we can't if it's going to hurt us."
The City of Harlem, who currently is experiencing significant growth in residential development, is in need of finding alternative water and sewer resources, said Daniel Cason, a Harlem official, who attended the meeting in Thomson.
Mr. Cason said the city already has a number of subdivisions being built and that at present, city officials have had to turn away developers wanting to build more subdivisions. In addition, he said, more water and sewer services are needed because of anticipated industrial growth.
Currently, the City of Harlem purchases 90 percent of the water they sell to residents and business owners from Columbia County, Mr. Cason said. The remaining portion of water comes from three wells that the city owns, he added.
Robin Chasman, an engineer with O'Brien and Gere, pointed out during the meeting that members of the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission would need to find out from Harlem officials when they would actually need the 600,000 gallons of water and when they plan to use it.
Currently, the Thomson-McDuffie Water/Sewer Commission has an existing contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to draw two million gallons of water from Clarks Hill Lake at the Big Creek Water Treatment Plant, off Lincolnton Highway in the Community of Raysville.
At last week's meeting, members of the panel voted to seek a multi-million dollar loan to double their current 2 million gallon water capacity to 4 million gallons of water per day at the water treatment plant. Funding for the project, if approved by officials with the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), would expand not only the water treatment plant's current capacity, but expand the Thomson-McDuffie Sanitary Sewer System, as well.
The move is part of a shared vision by city and county officials, who are planning for future residential and industrial growth along the interchange of I-20 and Georgia Highway 150, as well as northbound sections off Washington Road, just across I-20.
New sewer lines have either been installed in those areas or will be soon, according to McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton.