Columbia County water might start running along Spooner Drive -- but only if the residents there help pay for it.
County commissioners recently agreed to enter into a public-private partnership with Spooner Drive residents. But the bulk of the construction cost will have to be paid by the residents, some of whom don't want the service.
The cost to install water lines down the street located across Washington Road from the Woodbridge neighborhood is $83,180. The county's Water Utilities department is willing to pay just $31,350 of that cost, leaving the 11 homeowners with a $2,850 bill each to get the service.
That price is too steep for Jerry Reynolds, a 25-year resident of Spooner Drive.
"I don't think we'd be interested in it," he said. "We've had well water for 25 years and that's working fine."
Reynolds said he also didn't relish the idea of a monthly water bill.
For Reynolds' neighbor Kathleen Murray, no costs seems too great to get county water.
Murray has lived on the Evans road for nearly 18 years and twice has had to dig new wells.
"I'm willing to pay my part," she said. "I've put in two wells and those cost over $6,000 or $7,000. I had to spend $1,800 just on a pump the other day."
Murray said she'd even be willing to chip in the added construction costs for neighbors unwilling to pay their share. However, she does worry some neighbors might try to take advantage.
"Once we pay for it and get it put in, I don't want them to be able to come later and tap in for a couple of hundred dollars," she said. "I don't think that's fair."
County Water Utilities Director Bill Clayton agreed.
Those who would try to pay later to tap into a water line without sharing in the construction costs likely would face fees and penalties higher than the typical tap-in fee, Clayton said.
However, it was not immediately clear if Spooner Drive homeowners could make payments to cover the cost of water line construction. Such is the option 40-year resident Joyce Nolin would prefer.
"I have a swimming pool and I constantly have algae in it because of the well water," she said. "So if payment plans are allowed, I might consider it."
The county only rarely agrees to such partnerships with residents for water line construction. Clayton said such a partnership has been undertaken about 10 times in his 35-year career.
It was considered on this occasion at the impetus of county commissioner Charles Allen, who said some residents of Spooner Drive approached him about water lines while he was campaigning for his seat.
Allen said he would like to have been able get free water line construction for the small neighborhood, but it wasn't feasible.
"That's a dead-end line specific for the neighborhood," Allen said. "It's not where we can connect to another line and continue it on to somewhere else."
Letters have been sent to Spooner Drive residents extending the cost-share offer for water lines. Clayton said it likely will be a few weeks before he knew what their interest will be in getting county water.
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