Anniston to soon begin work on Honda water project
by Patrick McCreless
Aug 26, 2013 | 3104 views |  0 comments | 73 73 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A project to make the Honda automobile plant in Lincoln an Anniston water customer is expected to start in October.

Ed Turner, general manager for the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, said companies will be allowed to bid on the board's portion of the $6.7 million piping installation project Sept. 4. Construction will then begin in October and has a tentative Jan. 15 completion date, Turner said.

The completion of the project will mean additional revenue for a city water board that has seen its customer base stagnate in recent years. It also means superior water quality for Honda, which has had to rely on Lincoln well water with a higher mineral content.

Turner said the water board is responsible for $1.4 million-worth of the project, which was announced in late 2011. Bonds issued by the state will cover the other $5.3 million of the project and pay for another 9 miles of piping. The Taylor Corporation in Oxford has already received the contract for that portion of the project, Turner said.

Turner said the board's portion will consist of installing 4 miles of piping to the Honda plant.

"After this Honda will be one of our biggest customers," Turner said. "Hopefully, Honda will continue to grow and they'll buy water from the city as time goes on."

The Anniston water system's two largest customers are the Anniston Army Depot and the Cleburne County Water Authority, both of which use about 1 million gallons of water per day and each generate more than $300,000 in annual revenue.

Part of the cost of the Anniston water board project will be supplemented by $500,000 in grants, $200,000 of which is federal money that came through the Appalachian Regional Commission in April. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs awarded the other $300,000.

Still, the water board will have to make a large investment in the project, keeping it from seeing jumps in revenue from Honda initially, Turner said.

"There will be no immediate extra revenue," he said.

A large customer is still welcome news for the water board, which has seen its customer base decline in recent years along with Anniston's population. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Anniston in 2011 had a population of 22,959 - 147 fewer people than the 23,106 residents it had in 2010.

"We've been stagnant in growth of residential customers," Turner said. "Hopefully that won't be a trend that will continue."

Turner noted that industries at McClellan have helped cover the loss in residential customer revenue in recent years.

Honda needs the more efficient Anniston water supply for its vehicle paint after recently expanding its operations, adding the Acura MDX luxury SUV to its production line earlier this year. The plant, which employs around 4,000 people, also manufactures the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot SUV and the Ridgeline pickup truck.

"An adequate supply of water is critical to the success of our ongoing manufacturing operations," said Ted Pratt, manager of corporate affairs and communications for the Honda plant. "Our primary requirement though is that the quality of the water stays consistent and we know that surface water offers the most consistent quality for our operations."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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