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August 27, 2021 Clay County Utility Authority assures there's plenty of water for residents, new Niagara plant

MIDDLEBURG-With the cement poured and construction underway, residents are wondering how the Niagara Bottling Company manufacturing plant will affect current and future residents.

Niagara purchased roughly 2,100 equivalent residential water connections and Clay Today reached out to ask how this affects future development in the area.  Clay Today spoke with CCUA about those connections and the answer isn’t as simple.  However, CCUA stressed it worked closely with the county to ensure that it did everything right in allowing Niagara to purchase the water it needed.

“CCUA spends a great deal of time in planning, building, and monitoring the capacity at our water treatment facilities,” CCUA government affairs representative Celeste Goldberg said.  “Capacity is expressed in two primary terms: Millions of Gallons per Day (MGD) and Equivalent Residential Connections (ERCs).  Our use of the term ERC is to express units of water demand.  One ERC roughly accounts for between 170 and 220 Gallons per Day (GPD) of water demand based upon our monitoring of existing customer demand patterns.”

CCUA treats its customers as either residential or as commercial and industrial.  All customers, however, are expressed in terms of ERCs for a common basis of water demand.  Both use water in the same way after all.  CCUA warns that people “should not misconstrue the use of ERCs as CCUA only serves residential customers or that a commercial or industrial customer is displacing residential customers.”

CCUA says those worried that Niagara is taking water that otherwise would go to new residential customers need not worry.  That’s because it worked with the county to account for that kind of growth. 

“CCUA regularly engages with our partners at Clay County, the Clay County Economic Development Corporation, as well as private development groups and businesses,” Goldberg said.  “We incorporate information into our planning efforts to make sure we can serve the Clay County community as it grows.  We also engaged with Clay County through the development review process that evaluates all projects considered in the unincorporated areas of Clay County.”

Clay County’s process ensures that all the various regulations in the county are addressed, including the possibility of future growth.  Goldberg said that CCUA ensures that issues involving potable water, wastewater and reclaimed water services are addressed as its process compliments and supports the county’s process. 

What this all means is while technically Niagara is using water that potential future residents and CCUA customers could have used, Niagara’s purchase of 2,100 ERCs from CCUA wouldn’t have been approved if it was going to take away from future customers in a real way.  Basically it boils down to the fact that there’s room for Niagara’s purchased water and for new resident’s water. 

Article written by Wesley LeBlanc

Staff Writer at Clay Today