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Highlands Phase 12 OK’d Despite Continuing PWA Concerns

Water from the Punkin Water Association after being boiled. Photo submitted by Max Hill

**UPDATE: According to a representative from the Campground Water Association, the request from the PWA to connect was denied by Campground last month.

More than three years ago, the Punkin Water Association told the Public Service Commission they would be building a connection to the city of Oxford to purchase up to 250,000 gallons of water a day to help improve water quality and pressure.

On Monday, PWA customers learned that the water association no longer plans on making that connection via a report submitted to the PSC on Sunday.

Last month, the PSC held a public meeting with customers and PWA board members and Commissioner Brandon Presley told the PWA they had until Aug. 1 to submit a plan on finding alternative water sources.

PWA will, instead, attempt to connect to Campground Water Association that has an existing emergency connection to Oxford.

“PWA has determined that it is not in the best interests of PWA members and not financially feasible considering the cost of the project, limits on the amount that could be purchased to connect separately to the city of Oxford, and current cash on hand,” the report states. “PWA will not move forward with the separate project.”

The PWA said connecting to Oxford directly would cost about $2 million where connecting to Campground would cost approximately $100,000 to $150,000.

PWA will explore options to further treat the water for discoloration at its current well and will drill a new well as an additional source of water. PWA will have to locate this new well in an area that does not contain the same level of iron as its current well.

Residents receiving water from PWA have been issuing complaints to the PSC for several years over the quality of the water and poor management of the water association. Customers often complain about discoloration of their water and having to replace water filters almost weekly.

The maximum number of connections Punkin can have is 1,190. There are about 130 connections available.

If a connection with Campground does not occur, PWA said it will likely take steps to curtail water usage for its current customers to reduce strain on PWA’s current system.

“Steps considered will include but not be limited to banning the use of water for non-essential purposes (including as part of lawn irrigation systems) and/or significantly increasing rates for thresholds of water usage,” the report states.

On Monday, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors heard from several homeowners who are PWA customers when they reviewed the preliminary plat for 29 lots in phase 12 of the Highlands subdivision during its regular meeting.

The residents said water pressure and quality are already bad and more homes will only make it worse.

The Board explained that they do not have the authority to manage water associations and that the developer of the 29 lots has already paid for the connections that are already counted in the water associations’ max connections.

PWA customer Max Hill said the mismanagement of the water association over the years has put the PWA in a hole.

“It is my belief that this sudden 180 from connecting to the city is not because they can’t supply us but because Punkin has been turned down for our loan and we can’t get the money to make the connection,” Hill said in response to the PWA’s report. “It is always a shell game with this board when members try to get at the truth. They know they’re in a pickle but will never admit it until this association is defunct and no longer a viable supplier of water.”

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