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Early committee discussions on a proposed water line from Chiefland to Otter Creek have Chiefland commissioners saying a better deal needs to be put on the table.
Vice Mayor Teresa Barron, who heads up the committee on Chiefland’s end, gave an update on the matter at Monday night’s commission meeting.
“(There are) several issues that would have to determine what’s going on,” she said.
Otter Creek’s current proposal, a plan that would help the town fix a dangerous water quality issue, calls for a 6-inch pipe carrying clean, fresh water from Chiefland about 12 miles down U.S. Highway 19. The project is projected to cost about $2.4 million, funds that will be secured by the Town of Otter Creek.
But Barron, after consulting with staff from different departments, said a 6-inch pipe might not cut it. It might not allow for future expansion by the city south toward Otter Creek or for adequate water pressure needed by firefighters. Barron said the pipe for five miles out of Chiefland should be at least 8 inches, and possibly as much as 12 inches, in diameter. But, according to her figures, an 8-inch pipe would tack on about $150,000 to the cost of the project, an issue that alone could halt the proposal.
Chiefland Fire Chief James Harris, in agreement, said he wasn’t sure a 6-inch pipe would work for firefighting purposes, though, he added, the size of Otter Creek’s storage tanks needed to be considered.
Another issue, Barron said, is that Otter Creek is proposing to pay for its water only 76 percent of what is charged on average to Chiefland residents.
Commissioner Rollin Hudson said asking Chiefland residents to pay more for their water than Otter Creek was out of the question.
People living outside the city limit, in fact, pay 25 percent more to get city water, he said. “That’s fair. That’s what they’re paying. That’s what Otter Creek needs to be paying.”
Barron said charging that much might “make the project unfeasible.”
Ownership of the pipe is an issue, as well. Barron said the structure of Otter Creek’s loan requires the town to own the pipeline for the duration of its repayment, which is about 40 years. The contract could be written, however, to state that Chiefland gets ownership of its 5-mile portion after that time, Barron said, and that’s something that needs to be considered.