As its facility downsizes in other areas, Georgia Pacific-Crossett has asked to be placed on water service from the Crossett Water Commission.

Commissioners say they are not against the proposal, but want to ensure that adding such a large customer won’t endanger service to other users in the area.

“Over the last year, we have explored drinking water options with the City of Crossett,” GP Crossett Spokeswoman Jennifer King said. “With the new configuration of GP Crossett Paper Operations, we believe it may now be possible for the city water system to supply our drinking water needs. We look forward to continuing our work with the Water Commission as we move forward.

Water Plant Manager Albert Mills said the company had originally asked for a capacity of up to 750 gallons per minute, but the commission is not able to provide that much water.

“The potential here is that they could run us dry, and we can’t allow that,” Water Commission Chair Greg Sivils said. “Whether we throttle it down through the size of distribution line that we give them or some other way, we need to look at that and we need to look at our water rates.”

A letter from the water commission’s engineer, Les Price, said that if the water commission does not make any improvements to its current infrastructure, it could provide approximately 382 gallons per minute to GP.

The letter also states, however, that if the commission builds a new supply well with a capacity of 400 gallons per minute and a raw water line, “then Crossett Water could provide approximately 750 gallons per minute.”

The cost to construct such a new well would be an estimated $1,041,000, Price wrote in the letter.

In their discussions at a special-called meeting Monday, the water commissioners discussed ways to potentially ensure that GP does not pull more water than the commission can provide. Some suggested throttling the water through smaller lines, while others suggested a number of valve arrays that could be opened and closed depending on how much water the company needs at a given time.

“We have to have some kind of binding agreement, some kind of clause in a contract that says that if there is a break or some kind of emergency, we reserve the right (to cut off service), because have got to shut it off, because we have got to see to the residents of the city.”

The commissioners said they needed to meet with GP officials and their engineer before they could move forward with the proposal as it stands.

“There’s a ways in here (in the request) between what they want and what we can do,” Commissioner Beverly Gammell said.

Representatives of GP were set to meet with the commission Monday, but were not able to attend, Commission Secretary Diane Marter said.

Mills said he wanted to stress that he and the commission members were not opposed to adding GP to the water system, but the matter is bigger than one customer.

“We have got to look out for the health and safety of the people of Crossett,” he said.

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