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Decatur council delays consideration of water agreement

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

A proposed agreement between Decatur Utilities and the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority hit a speed bump Monday.

The proposal calls for a 25-year contract that would allow DU to sell up to 10 million gallons of potable water a day to the Limestone Authority.

The Decatur City Council was expected to consider approval of the contract during its meeting Monday, but the council delayed consideration until at least Dec. 3.

DU Interim Manager Stanley Keenum said he was surprised and did not know the reasons behind the delay.

Council President Billy Jackson, District 1, said he and other council members wanted more time to review the contract, which could last as long as 30 years if Limestone exercised a five-year extension in 2032.

District 4 Councilman Ronny Russell said he also wanted more time to speak with one of Decatur's Municipal Utilities Board members about the contract.

"We just want more time to look things over before we enter into a 25-year contract," Jackson said.

An existing agreement allows DU to sell up to 2 million gallons a day to the Limestone authority.

If the new agreement is approved, the Limestone authority will construct a 30-inch-diameter pipeline across the Tennessee River to draw even more water from DU.

Limestone authority manager Tony Sneed told The Daily last week the $10 million pipeline would save Limestone money in the long run.

Limestone's only other option for keeping up with growth, he said, is to build a $40 million treatment plant on Elk River. He said the Decatur partnership is a good alternative.

"It's much cheaper than building a plant, and the DU rates are economical," he said. "We've got a good working relationship with the DU, so this will open up water for the whole eastern part of our county."

According to the contract, DU would charge the Limestone authority the same rate it charges all customers on the system, including private homeowners and large industrial plants.

Keenum said the new agreement would also benefit DU by spreading its treatment costs over more gallons, reducing the likelihood of a rate increase.

He said Decatur's water treatment plant, which draws from the Tennessee River, can produce about 68 million gallons a day, leaving plenty of reserve to sell the Limestone authority.

The contract requires the Limestone authority to help pay for any upgrades needed to increase the Decatur plant's capacity.

Sneed was not available for comment Monday night. He told The Daily last week the Limestone board was preparing to approve the contract Nov. 15, but it was waiting to hear the Decatur council's decision.

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