Councilor Ron Reavis voiced concerns about the Walnut River Water Supply Project.
A new business item included in Monday night’s Augusta City Council meeting was authorization of the issuance of General Obligation Bonds for the City’s Spillway Project. It was approved 5-0.
The Council also approved 5-0, authorization of water system improvements as part of the City’s Water Supply Project, and authorization of the issuance of temporary notes for water system improvements as part of the City’s Water Supply Project and renewal of the temporary notes for the Corps’ Levee Project.
Next came consideration to approve engineering service agreements with Aqua Tech Engineers for various El Dorado Water Line Projects. Council approved 5-0.
Council was also asked to approve another agreement with Aqua Tech Engineering for the Walnut River Water Supply Project.
Councilor Ron Reavis voiced concerns. “Most of you are aware that I’m oppoesd to this project. I drove out to the river yesterday and there’s no water to pump to our lake. If there’s no rain this spring, there won’t be any water to pump to the lake. If it rains to fill up the river then the lake will be filled, too... there’s concerns about the sediment having to be cleaned, permits from EPA will be needed...we’ve heard concerns from the public on why didn’t we dredge the city lake - we were told that sediment was hazardous to haul off somewhere.”
Mayor Williams responded, “That's not the reason we didn’t dredge. We would have had to purchase land to spread the sediment out on.”
Reavis said, “That’s irrelevant. We would need permits to do this. The cost on this is not up front - we’d need to purchase more land. Would we have to dry it out? Haul it off? What would we do with it?”
Willis Wilson with Aqua Tech explained, “We took samples of the sediment and it is not toxic. There are plenty of alternatives for disposal.”
Reavis also mentioned his concern about transferring zebra mussels from the river to the lake, “You recommend potassium permanganate and that it is commonly used, but that’s another system we’d need to maintain. Why would we want to take a chance of infecting our lake with those?”
“It takes a low dose of the potassium and we could use brass or copper base materials at the intake - the mussels won’t adhere to that. We’re a long way from pulling the trigger on this design, we’ll look at all the concerns,” Wilson advised.
Councilor Mike Rawlings said, “If this system had been in place earlier we could have pumped water into our lake before it got so bad. It could have prevented some problems. We need to do do this...El Dorado could shut us down at any time. We need to make sure our lake has water in it.”
Josh Shaw, assistant to the city manager explained that Wichita uses the same “pulling from the river” concept, although they draw from an underground aquifer, it is a close example to the concept.
The council approved the agreement 3-2, with Reavis and Mike Martin voting against the measure.