Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 11, 2014

AMWA, city close to contract

Athens — The Athens Municipal Water Authority Board is moving closer to a new contract with the City of Athens, Executive Director Wylie Pirkle said Wednesday.

The authority met Wednesday in a meeting, which also included an executive session concerning the litigation between the two parties.

“We’ve had a committee from the Water Authority and a committee from the city, and we’ve worked out a framework, which is really a positive thing,” Pirkle said.

Pirkle said the first copy of the draft is completed.

“You know how it is,” Pirkle said. “I’m sure there are things on both sides that are going to have to be negotiated, but at least we have a basic idea of the framework of a deal.”

Pirkle hopes to see the matter resolved before the beginning of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1.

“It drives so many other things,” Pirkle said. “We’re right in the middle of budget. How in the world are you going to figure budgets out when you don’t know who’s responsible for what yet?”

Pirkle said the Water Authority is going to continue to develop two wells to supplement the water source for Athens.

“We are a little concerned about things like Zebra Mussels getting into the intake structure at the lake,” Pirkle said. “We had a lightning storm, and got half of the plant knocked out. Those things are going to happen.”

Pirkle said the Authority is at the beginning of the engineering phase of getting the wells started.

“The first wells are going to be the most difficult and the most expensive,” Pirkle said. “You’re going to have to figure out how to treat that water out of the wells, which is different than how you treat water out of the lake.”

Pirkle said that after the dispute between the city and authority resulted in a lawsuit and election on whether to dissolve AMWA, there is still some caution between the two entities.

“We’re certainly trying to move in a direction where we can work with each other,” Pirkle said. “We certainly hope when we get this behind us that we can attract companies to the city that are the right kind of water users to create jobs and have a positive impact on the community.”

Pirkle said the new members of the board elected in May are bringing their own experience and ability to the body.

“I like our board,” Pirkle said. “I like people with different ideas. We’ve got a couple of new guys that I think are adding to it. There is no friction on our board. We have a pretty good mix.”

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