HALEYVILLE - Where does your water come from? In most places in the county, it comes from either Bear Creek or Brushy Creek. Double Springs residents receive water from both places, purchasing water from Haleyville (Bear Creek) and Arley (Brushy Creek). Double Springs has had a contract with Haleyville to purchase water for nearly 41 years, which is now in renegotiations.
The matter was brought up at the Haleyville Water Works and Sewer Board meeting Tuesday, March 23. Since 1980, Double Springs has also purchased water from the Arley Water Works system to supply additional water. The current contract with Haleyville specifies Double Springs is to purchase a minimum of 3 million gallons per month. The current rate is $2.07 per 1,000 gallons.
“They have asked to lower their minimum (gallons per month),” Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri, who is also chair of the Haleyville Water and Sewer Board, said. “I’m not in favor of it. Financially, we’re not making a ton of money. We’re their secondary water source. If anything happens in Arley, they’ll pull from us. I think we need to keep the minimum of 3 million.”
“We went off the old (contract) because it’s been there 40 years,” Attorney Shane Cook stated. “They want one million where they have three now.”
Cook said the contract can be adjusted when an increase of the purchase price of Haleyville’s water happens.
“We can’t charge (Double Springs) any more for construction or anything...whatever the supplier raises, that’s about all we can do anyway,” Cook said.
“Our margin was set to pay the expenses of the water and the cost of pumpage,” Lane Bates, general manager of the HWWSB said. “Back in the 1980s, we planned on them being a 10 million per month customer. We should have done like Bear Creek did: you cannot buy any water from anybody but us if we sell you water. They had options to buy from someone else, and they chose Arley.”
The current rate Double Springs receives from Arley is $2.02 per 1,000 gallons, which is five cents less than the Haleyville rate.
Bates added that of the 12 months in 2020, Double Springs purchased the minimum of 3 million only for six of those months.
The power bill for pumping the water is the responsibility of Haleyville. Bates mentioned the water Haleyville sells to Lynn is cheaper because it is pumped by Bear Creek Water Authority. That price is currently $1.90 per 1,000 gallons.
“Last year, we had a profit of $14,000 selling (Double Springs) water,” Bates added, when board member Glen Roberts asked what would happen if the pump needed replacing. It was noted the pump also distributes water to Haleyville, so it is not just to Double Springs.
“Ron (Padgett, of Double Springs Water Works) tells me that the customers like (Arley) water better than they like (Haleyville),” Bates said, who then mentioned the water from Bear Creek is better than it previously was.
Since the contract is still in the negotiation process, decisions made at the HWWSB meeting are not set in concrete. Bates said he spoke with Padgett, who initially said they wanted a 1 million minimum but would settle for 2 million.
“We need to go the maximum we can I think,” Cook said, regarding the length of the contract. “If they’re thinking about easing us out, we need to lock it in as long as we can. If we re-write it, we need to have the maximum, which would be 30 years. They had offered 10.”
At this point, Board Member Ralph Trallo made a motion to keep it at a 3 million gallon per month minimum with a 30-year contract. Blue Russell seconded, and the motion carried.
Double Springs Mayor Elmo Robinson declined to comment until he had a chance to speak with the Haleyville board.
More negotiations will happen in the near future, with the details hammered out into a signed contract.
“We’re still negotiating,” Cook said. “(The motion) just gives us some way to go. We also added one little bit of language in there. If it’s paid after the 15th, it’s going to be a 10 percent late fee.”
The next HWWSB meeting will be Tuesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the warehouse on 20th Street.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.