10-22-20 Mayor speaks at Kiwanis meeting.jpeg

Long awaited improvements to some of Athens’ most troublesome water lines are progressing as planned.

Mayor Monte Montgomery said at times the construction will be an inconvenience to residents and motorists in the area.

“This is going to be a somewhat disruptive project, but very much needed,” he said. “I’ve been on the council seven or eight years now and there’s been brown water throughout this area for quite a while.”

In 2019, Athens was approved for a $825,000 loan and $300,000 in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to replace 5,000 linear feet of water line in the areas of Park, Prairieville, and Clinton streets. As well as laying down new water lines, all of the water hydrants will be replaced.

“We’re trying to do away with these older lines every year,” Montgomery said.

In July, the city council awarded the bid to Capps-Capco Construction to do the work. The construction began on Park Street and will proceed eastward. 

Athens has spent millions of dollars in the past three years in improvements to the water system. Upgrades include overhauling water tanks around the city, a pressure booster on the northeast side of town and the upcoming replacement of a line on North Pinkerton Street.

Athens officials learned in August that the Water Development Board was giving about $1.5 million in help for that project. Work includes replacement of 4,000 feet of sewer line.

Water infrastructure and service have major concerns and among the biggest expenses for the city in recent years.

Montgomery said the city council has recently recently received the results of a water rate study calling for a 30% increase in the cost to the customers. A study was conducted five years ago, after which the city raised rates 30%. Montgomery said he’s not in favor of imposing such a heft increase this time.

“For me it’s going to have to be 5%, or less,” Montgomery said.

The council will have to decide what amount of increase, if any, the city will impose.

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