Watershed study to be costly

Published 10:32 am Monday, November 10, 2008

A study of the Flint River’s quality the City of Bainbridge is being required to undertake could cost more than city leaders would like.

At their Tuesday meeting, the Bainbridge City Council approved Bainbridge $73,856 from the University of Georgia Watershed Group of Athens, Ga., for development of a watershed protection plan mandated by the state government.

City Manager Chris Hobby said the watershed study is being required by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division in order for the city to be able to renew its wastewater discharge permit. Addressing the proposed cost of the study, Hobby called the requirement “a classic example of an unfunded mandate,” in which higher levels of government impose rules or conditions on local governments for which they are not reimbursed.

“Most private groups capable of doing the study are unwilling to bid on it because they can’t compete with the university,” Hobby said.

To partially reduce the study’s cost, the city will perform some of the work itself, with City Engineer Jim York performing taking water quality samples and performing other tasks, Hobby said.

“What are our options?” Hobby asked rhetorically. “If we don’t do the study, the consent order we would have to sign with the EPD would ultimately cost us more than the plan. We have no choice.”

According to the UGA Watershed Group’s proposal, the plan will lay out a framework that will allow Bainbridge to grow without decreasing stream and river health. Before the plan is developed, water samples will be conducted, waste water service areas, associated watersheds and other facilities potentially impacting water will be described. A watershed assessment incorporating public participation will also be done.

Other business

• Recognized Greg Scott, employee with the Public Works Division since 2001, as the city’s Employee of the Year.

• Approved, by unanimous vote, a one-time 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment to the compensation received by retired city employees. The adjustment was recommended by the Georgia Municipal Association, which administers the city’s retirement plan, Hobby said. Future adjustments may be considered on a year-to-year basis, Mayor Mark Harrell said.

• Agreed, by unanimous vote, to give all City of Bainbridge employees a Christmas bonus in the form of $100 in Bainbridge Bucks, which can be used at participating merchants. The bonus had been included in the current city fiscal year’s budget, Mayor Harrell said.

Bids and Bills

In a unanimous vote, the council approved the following bids and bills:

Bills: $7,440 from Blower Technology of Stafford for a Fairbanks & Morse centrifugal pump; $4,825.50 from Drillers Service of Hickory, N.C., for repair of Flygt pump; two invoices of $13,404.21 and $6,247.93 from Genesis Group of Tallahassee, Fla., for surveying work associated with planned update to Cheney Griffin Park and boat ramp improvements, respectively; $3,341.73 from Smithbuilt Electric and Trenching Service of Donalsonville, Ga., for labor and materials for Edgewood Lift Station; $13,128.89 from Oxford Construction of Albany, Ga., for 180.59 tons of asphalt for paving of Pierce Street parking lot, two invoices of $8,732 and $5,408 from Alliant Insurance Services of Newport Beach, Calif., for general liability and excess liability policies associated with fiber optic ring project.

Bids: $4,898 from MT Deason from Birmingham, Ala., for Gate Station No. 1 on Tallahassee Highway sewer project; and $10,876.82 from Consolidated Pipe of Albany, Ga., for Gate Station No. 1 on Tallahassee Highway sewer project.