Water board salivates for lower prices

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

While extension of water service to the Giles County line was contemplated nearly a year ago, delay only seems to make it more feasible, according to a report to Lewisburg's Water and Waste Water Board last week.

"Contractors are very hungry and they are competing," utility Superintendent Larry Jones said Thursday. A Nashville-area based engineer has reported that another project attracted attention from contractors in Florida and Maryland, Jones said.

Fuel, steel and pipe prices have gone down in the months since Lewisburg had trouble getting bidders for a project, Jones noted. So, while the so-called Route 129 project is still being designed, the 6.5-mile project may be more affordable when bids are opened at some undetermined date.

Recession is cited for why contractors are looking far beyond their states' lines for work.

Meanwhile, the department's plan for a 100,000-gallon water tank -- part of the 129 project -- at McDaniel Hollow Road hit a snag on Tuesday night last week. It had to be considered by the Marshall County Board of Zoning Appeals, but when that agenda item was called during the meeting in the County Courthouse Annex, there was no representative present, so the request for a variance was tabled until the BZA meets again.

The city utility wants to build the proposed tank on Lynnville Hill on one half acre instead of one acre, Zoning Administrator Don Nelson said.

It was unclear which party, the county office or the city utility, misunderstood whether attendance was required for approval of the variance request.

Installation of the water tank, 6.5 miles of pipe and two water pumps may cost, "hopefully, slightly less than $1 million," according to Carr.

Money would be borrowed for the project and repaid from customer fees.

Discussion during the monthly utility board meeting about lower prices might seem to bode well for a project closer to home, but feasibility after construction was the concern. Apparently customers have been counted along Lynnville Highway, but so far there are only two customers in the city Business Park on the north side of Mooresville Highway.

Lewisburg Industrial Development Director Terry Wallace has been advised by the utility that a water tank in the business park needs more customers and, short of that, a state grant would support construction, according to Kenneth Carr, the utility's assistant superintendent.

U.S. Tank and Cryogenics has established its tank refurbishing business in the Business Park, and the Autom Church Supply Co. building is nearing completion. Autom also has a candle factory to be placed in the park.

Construction and operation of the 500,000 gallon water tank sought for the business park would require some 6,000 feet of 12-inch-pipe line, Carr said. It's to provide fire protection in the park and water service for any prospective industry that does move to the park.

"We're trying to determine if we're going to get state funds to help us on that," Carr said.