Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:00 am

A water line from Eatonton to Rock Eagle Technology Park is at least as significant for the support it demonstrates for new business as for the service itself, the chairman of the Putnam County Board of Commissioners says.

“I strongly believe that it is the obligation of the county to provide the resources needed to promote economic expansion in the county,” Steve Hersey said by email Monday.

“Those resources include: expansion of infrastructure (roads, water, sewer and natural gas), adequate support of the Putnam Development Authority, and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrating a ‘business friendly’ attitude.”

At the July 17 BOC meeting, Hersey said, “I would have much preferred that the water authority was in a position to take this on, but they’re not.”

He was referring to the Eatonton-Putnam Water & Sewer Authority. 

Hersey said, “EPWSA is so heavily leveraged that (it) cannot take on the debt service” for the water line.

Getting an agreement between the county and EPWSA for a connection to the existing water line will help the utility, Hersey said, because “it will reduce the cost of water to EPWSA.”

Hersey added he expects the county and Piedmont Water Co. to meet within the next two weeks to “prepare a draft” of an agreement the BOC could approve.

He also said the county’s commitment to the line “should send a message to existing businesses and prospective new businesses that the county will support them.”

Hersey also emphasized the number of agencies involved in providing utility services.

“The waterline project cannot be taken in isolation since it represents the combined efforts of city council – natural gas line – Piedmont Water – sewer and water distribution – and the county to promote development in the north part of the county. 

“The fact that several stakeholders have come together for the common good may be the most significant feature of this project,” he said.