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Supervisors Lift Moratorium for Punkin Water Association

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

A moratorium on new development in the service area of the Punkin Water Association was lifted Monday by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 3 to 1 to lift the moratorium, with Supervisor Kevin Frye being the dissenting vote. Supervisor Chad McLarty recused himself from the vote.

The moratorium was placed by the Supervisors in July 2018 after the Public Service Commission stepped in upon receiving several complaints against PWA for quality of water and pressure issues.

The moratorium did not allow Punkin to issue “will serve” letters and no new developments were considered for preliminary plat approval.

PWA President Jason Butts said there are about 150 “will serve” letters that were issued just before the moratorium was put into place, with those developers being stopped in their tracks for more than a year.

The maximum number of connections Punkin can have is 1,190. There are about 875 existing customers. The maximum number of meters cannot increase until Punkin increases its capacity, which should occur in about a year thanks to a new agreement with the city of Oxford to purchase up to 250,000 gallons of water daily via master meter connection that PWA is building.

Butts said it will take about a year or 18 months to construct.

“It is very weather-dependent,” Butts said Monday.

In April 2018, residents who receive water from the Punkin Water Association voiced their concerns about water quality and poor management before Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley at a public meeting.

After the meeting, Punkin was required to make improvements to existing wells, as well as requiring the association to be more transparent and having a plan in place to flush all lines.

County Building Official Joel Hollowell told supervisors PWA had completed the first round of line flushing.

“It will be an ongoing process,” he said. “It took years for all that sediment to get in there.”

Butts said PWA customers will see a $7 to $12 raise in rates to help offset the costs to build the new water lines.

“We haven’t had a raise in a long time,” he said.

Hollowell also noted that during the previous meetings in 2018, dozens of PWA customers came out to express their concerns and that during the last two meetings, only a handful of people attended the meetings.

Frye asked Butts why, as the president of the association, did he want the moratorium lifted.

Butts said it was to help the developers who have been stalled for more than a year and to help grow the association.

Frye asked why the need to list the moratorium if no more “will serve” letters can be served anyway until the new connection is put into place.

Developer John McCurdy stood up and explained again that some developers, like himself, who have “will serve” letters cannot get approval to move forward until the moratorium is lifted.

Frye said while he recognized PWA has made improvements, he felt there was nothing in place to make sure the water association actually moves forward with the connection with the city. He made a motion to lift the moratorium for only preliminary plans to move forward but anyone ready for a final plat approval would have to come before the board to gain final plat approval.

The motion died for a lack of a second. Supervisor David Rikard made a subsequent motion to approve lifting the moratorium with no special limitations and Supervisor Jeff Busby seconded the motion.


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