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Chiefland wants water bottling plant

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By Jeff M. Hardison

Chiefland leaders heard March 10 about a proposed water-bottling plant that wants to tap 300,000 gallons of city water daily.

About 100,000 gallons of sewer service will be required daily to process the drinking water, Building and Zoning Administrator Bill Hammond Jr. said. Ninety-nine percent of that, he added, will go back to the aquifer.

"It's actually potable water when they get done with it," Hammond said. "That discharge to our sewer would just be like the normal bathroom use of any other business."

Ice River Springs has bought 80 acres from James Hudson in land that is zoned for industrial use on the eastern side of the Chiefland, near to the Florida Department of Transportation facility on U.S. Alt. 27. The property is on the north side of Alt. 27, City Commissioner J. Rollin Hudson Jr. said.

Commissioner Hudson is a very distant relative of the Hudson who sold the land to Ice River Springs. There is no conflict with him voting on this matter if it comes to a vote in the future, according to information released during discussion at the meeting.

The average daily flow of water currently for the whole city of Chiefland is about 400,000 gallons, Chiefland City Manager Grady Hartzog Sr. said. The Suwannee River Water Management District has permitted the city to use up to 1.9 million gallons daily right now, Hartzog said.

Therefore, the permitted use far exceeds the added amount that would be required by the company, he said.

This proposal shows a potential for more jobs.

In the second or third year of operation, Mayor Teal Pomeroy said, Ice River Springs will have created 75 new jobs. Pomeroy is slated to meet with company officials on March 17.

Infrastructure does not exist yet to provide the city water for the company, which will be using Chiefland tap water as well as water it is permitted to take from Wekiva Springs, according to information released at the City Commission meeting.

A bigger pipe must be placed to provide the water-bottling company with the water supply it needs, Hartzog said.

"It sounds like a good, clean business," Pomeroy said. "We need to put this out to the public and see what they say."

Hartzog asked for permission from the City Commission to instruct Finance and Projects Coordinator Laurie Copeland to seek a Community Development Block Grant for economic development.

To meet the deadline for the funding cycle for the CDBG grant, Copeland said, the city must move rather quickly. The 2007-08 deadline for an economic development CDBG is in June, Copeland said.

"The next one (CDBG for economic development), for the hospital, will open up in July," she added.

There would be a CDBG economic development grant created for 2008-09 for Tri-County Hospital, she said, and this way there would be no conflict.

The City Commission plans to discuss the matter more on March 24. The issue was not on the agenda for the March 17 meeting, except under the general heading of "correspondence."