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Gainesville to consider water service requests
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More than 50 Gainesville residents who have requested city water service will get it if the City Council approves it Tuesday.

The city has a water extension priority system, where residents who petition for service on their street are placed on a list for water main extensions and system upgrades, which is done as funding allows.

“It’s the city’s goal ultimately to have water on all of the roads that are out in the county,” said Kelly Randall, Gainesville Public Utilities director. “Basically if it’s not within our district, it’s within the county district of which we’ve contracted with to provide water.”

Gainesville requires residents to sign a paper requesting the service. However, there’s no set number of residents who have to sign, the city just wants to know that people will tie on to the service if the work’s done.

The streets the utility department is proposing for 2014 improvements include Innisbrook Lane, Roy Parks Road, Lori Lane, Sloan Mill Road, Gaines Ferry Road, White Sulphur Road and the intersection of North Browning Bridge and John Reynolds roads.

The city has a priority list so no one can accuse Gainesville of “special treatment” in giving water service to residents.

“There are folks who are skeptical of government and they’ll wonder, ‘Why did you run water on street A and not my street, where I’m on (street) B,’” Randall said. “‘You must know somebody who lives on (Street) A or somebody’s brother who lives on Street A.’

“Well, in order to be sure we truly have a fair system, when the people ask for water, we’ll put them on a list with all of the people who have petitioned, and it’s pretty much a first-come, first-serve basis.”

Randall said that some streets could get service quicker if the number of residents who want it justify the cost-effectiveness of adding it at the time. Need can be higher than available funds, he said.

The list dated July 2013 has about 41 projects, some dating back to April 1986. Some of those have been on hold because the economic downturn delayed or canceled new development or new road development.

The list is not just resident petitions, it also includes areas where the city has identified areas of improvement, said Myron Bennett, engineering/construction division manager for the Public Utilities Department.

Councilman Bob Hamrick suggested a similar priority system for sewer extensions as well at the council work session last week.

The city had a list, but finished all those projects about 10 years ago. That program is available only for properties within the city limits.

Hall County is working on providing sewer service to those in unincorporated areas of the county.

There is, however, some need for sewer capacity around “island” areas in the county. Islands are unincorporated areas of Hall County surrounded by property that is within the city limits. The need for city sewer service could provide incentive for property owners to annex into Gainesville, city officials said.

Sewer installation is more expensive than water, Randall said. He is aware of just one commercial project that has requested sewer.

The average cost to put in a foot of sewer line is about $50, compared with an average of $35 for a foot of water line.

Sewer is earmarked toward public health issues, Randall said. A request for sewer would also require a petition. Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said sewer requests should be cost-effective.

Sometimes the city and the property owner will split the cost of providing sewer if the land is in the county and is annexed into the city.

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