By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Water from the county-owned well located at Windsor Foods near Oakland will continue to flow into pipes that serve customers on the Billy’s Creek Water Association after supervisors approved a contract extension during a recessed meeting held last Thursday in Water Valley.
The association, which serves customers in northern areas of the county, first came to supervisors last June to explore the possibility of hooking to the county’s water infrastructure that was originally constructed north of Oakland to supply Mississippi Beef Processors, LLC in its beef processing plant.
Growth in the area and coming peak water use months were cited by Billy’s Creek board president Larry Sprouse, who told supervisors that some customers were already experiencing low water pressure, when he came to the board last June.
The connection was made on July 22, according to John Lewis of Hill, Lewis, Wrenn, LLC, the engineering firm for Billy’s Creek. Samples were not approved by the state’s health department until October.
“It was October 4 until we got all the health reports and satisfied the state that we could switch over,” Lewis said.
His appearance at last Friday’s meeting was two-fold, to get the contact extended and to ask for a reduction on the first month’s water bill.
“We had to do a lot of flushing to get the chlorine residual down to a manageable amount,” Lewis told supervisors, which accounted first additional water usage during the first month.
The first month’s usage was approximately 3,186,000 gallons, according to Lewis. The second months, Billy’s Creek used approximately 2,741,000 gallons.
While the request for a contract extension was quickly granted, Lewis’ request to cut the first month’s bill by half was met with opposition.
“Let me ask you something John, does Billy’s Creek, if somebody has a bad leak out there, do they give anybody a break on that leak, or do they just charge them just what it cost?” District Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette asked.
“I’m not sure,” Lewis answered.
“I am pretty sure, I think they charge them just what they use,” Surrette said. “As far as number of gallons, our pump pumped that many gallons and we paid for electricity for that many gallons. I think we did our part when we allowed Billy’s Creek to hook in there.”
“I agree with 95 percent of what Butch just said. But on that first month you used 500,000 more gallons than what you are normally going to use,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn said.
“I agree with Butch, we had to pay for electricity to pump that water. But, y’all were not drinking that water. It was going out on the ground getting it ready for you to drink,” Vaughn continued.
Lewis said it took three or four days of flushing to get the chlorine down to low levels where the people were not complaining.
“We all agreed when we started that we need to help that community with water,” District Five Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman weighed in.
“I believe y’all said you would handle all of the handle all of the expenses in to getting this tended to. That electricity (bill) ate us up. But, we sure want to keep those folks in water out there. When that water goes off, everybody gets wound up,” Tillman continued.
“Billy’s Creek paid and did all the switch over, that was in the agreement, no question about that,” Lewis responded.
“They did that with the understanding they were going to be able to get drinkable water. It took you 500,000 gallons to get drinkable water,” Vaughn said. “The only thing I am coming from different from what Butch and Bubba are saying is that we did not supply you with drinkable water right off the bat because the chlorine level was too high,” Vaughn continued.
“Was the chlorine level coming from us, or was it coming from already in their line?” Surrette asked. “It is a lot of questions that got to be answered about that. Do we have too much chlorine in our water? If we did, then we were giving too much chlorine to Windsor Foods?” Surrette asked.
“No, what the deal was we had a problem getting good samples to start with because the wells have been dormant for a long time,” Vaughn answered. “We had to flush the wells themselves with chlorine. We introduced the chlorine,” Vaughn continued.
“Everything is fine, it just took a certain amount of water to get it to that point,” Vaughn added. “I don’t see a 50 percent reduction, I am willing to bring it down.”
“I think that is fair, if the first month is 2,700,000 and the second month is 2,700,000, I think that is fair,” Lewis said.
“We are not talking about a whole lot of money,” Vaughn said.
“Six hundred dollars,” Lewis answered.
“They are asking for us to cut $600 off their bill. How bad of shape are they in? That is my question,” Surrette asked.
“Yes, $622,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn answered.
“During that period of October to November, we kept those wells exercised and the tank full and circulating with good water. When Windsor came on line on the 17th, they had good water,” Vaughn said.
A 4-0 vote followed the discussion, with Surrette abstaining. With the reduction, the total bill was reduced from $4,466.10 to $3,844.50 in October.
Lewis also told supervisors the increased water supply had served about 138 people on the Billy’s Creek Water Association and 13 or 14 in the Oakland system.
Lewis also told supervisors that the association had just taken bids on a third well that is in the planning stages. The new well, Lewis told supervisors last June, will be a 200 gallon-per-minute well that will be located on the site of the booster station on County Road 211.
After the completion of this well next year, Billy’s Creek will no longer need the water from the county.