Expansion of the public water and sewer systems into residential areas of U.S. Highway 341 is possible for the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission, but it would need buy-in from residents.

“We contracted out with Georgia Water Environmental Services to perform a study of three areas to potentially provide water and sewer service,” Interim Executive Director Andrew Burroughs told utility facilities committee members at their Thursday meeting.

“That would be the Arco area, the area of Ellis Point — what we’re calling Ellis Point is the area west of (U.S. Highway) 341 and north of Community Road — and then the area on the other side of 341 over to Old Jesup (Road).”

Burroughs said the consultant looked at three options for expanding sewer service to the three areas and found a standard gravity-powered sewer line to be the most effective method of delivering service.

Arco and the Ellis Point area seemed like the most cost-effective options, he explained.

“A couple of them may be cost-effective to take look at based off what we got. The Arco area, most of those customers have water, they do not have sewer access right now and they do have some failing septic tanks. Due to the population density in Arco, it looks like that could be an attractive option for gravity sewer,” Burroughs said.

“... The Ellis Point area, there’s about 450 homes in there that have neither water nor sewer access. Based on the amount of customers we could get out of there if we had full adoption, that one may be an attractive prospect. It depends on how many customers came in. If we only got half of them to come on, it would probably not pay for itself. If all of them came on, it would be much closer to doing so.”

The other side of the road, between Highway 341 and Old Jesup Road, doesn’t have the population density to make running water and sewer lines worthwhile, Burroughs said.

Due to the concentration of low-income households in the Arco neighborhood, Burroughs said the utility may be able to get grants to help pay for the project, which would likely cost several million dollars.

Potential customers in both areas would have to pay at least part of the tap-in fee, however, which currently costs excess of $6,000 for both water and sewer for single-family homes.

That number could be smaller for residences, however, as the utility recently allowed for homes to hook into the water and sewer systems with smaller pipes than it once did. Using smaller pipes would reduce the tap-in fee significantly, by nearly two thirds, Burroughs said.

Utility Commissioner Cornell Harvey, not a member of the facilities committee, asked if they could provide incentives to help people cover the cost of tap-in fees.

“That’s something we’re considering. If we’re running all this backbone infrastructure in, we need the bulk of these folks to tie on to make it cost-effective,” Burroughs said. “There will need to be incentives tied into the tap-in structure for that.”

Burroughs said the JWSC will begin sending out letters around Labor Day to see what kind of response it gets from residents.

Commissioners also discussed an encroachment agreement dealing with the Scarlett Federal Building in downtown Brunswick.

Burroughs said the contractors working on a recent expansion built a corner of the building on a JWSC easement. The utility has some trouble with the contractor, eventually issuing a stop-work order against them.

Ultimately the contractor moved the water main, Burroughs said, but a section of the building’s wall still jutted out four feet into the utility’s easement.

The encroachment agreement included moving the easement to cover the water main’s new route.

Facilities committee members also voted to recommend the full commission approve an Altama Avenue sewer pipe repair project, finance the expansion of the sewer system north of Exit 38 of Interstate 95, pay for repairs to a roof at the Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and sell off some equipment as surplus.

The four items will go to the utility’s finance committee before heading to the full commission.

During the full utility commission’s meeting the same day, commissioners approved the easement abandonment, new easement and encroachment agreement 6-0. Commissioner Steven Copeland was absent.

The full commission also approved a $2,000 leak adjustment and held a closed session to discuss property matters. Commissioners took no official action on discussions held in closed session.

Earlier in the day, the utility’s legislative committee discussed the grand jury selection process for utility commissioners and proposed ordinance amendments.

One seat on the commission is up for reappointment this year.

Applications for the utility commission seat are due by Oct. 14. Details will be provided in advertisements to run in The News on Oct. 3 and 10, according to utility legal counsel Charles Dorminy.

The grand jury will conduct interviews on Oct. 23 and 30, and members of the public will be invited to give their thoughts at a public hearing on Nov. 6. The final selection will come on Nov. 20 and the appointee will begin serving on Jan. 1, 2020.

Applicants must reside in the city or county for 12 months prior to applying, be 21 years old or older and registered to vote in the state.

They need specialized engineering, finance or related business education or experience, including accounting, public relations or other experience or education relating to the operation of a water and sewer authority, industrial management or related business, Dorminy said.

Harvey, the committee’s chairman, asked Dorminy to keep them up to date on the selection process.

The legislative committee also discussed a handful for ordinance amendments, which would have to be approved by both the Brunswick City and Glynn County commissions.

Among other changes, the amendments would allow customers with late balances or with leaks resulting from irrigation systems to apply for leak adjustments on their bills, require water lines serving fire suppression systems be metered and allow non-residential water and sewer customers to get their deposits back after five years.

The utility commission’s next regular meeting is set for July 25.

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