The issue revolves around businesses meeting the International Fire Code, which mandates that commercial buildings have at least 1,500 gallons per minute of water pressure. To solve the problem, the three public entities are working together to pay for the installation of 8.5 miles of 12-inch water pipes that would extend through the Mt. Zion area from Highway 27 to Lovvorn Road. The price tag: $2.1 million.
So far, the water authority agreed to pay $620,930 for the project. However at its Tuesday meeting, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners was unable to reach a deal on its portion of the bill.
David Goldberg, facilities development officer for the county schools, said that the new Mt. Zion Elementary School, which is slated to open up in January 2008 and be ready for students in August 2008, also has to meet the fire code’s water pressure requirements for commercial buildings.
Goldberg said that while the water has not been turned on at Mt. Zion Elementary, engineers from the water authority estimated its water pressure at around 400 gallons per minute.
“We have to have 1,500 PSIs (pressure), but there’s a variance in it that lets you get down to 1,000,” he said. “We’re shooting to get at least 1,500 when we do the infrastructure changes. We’re looking to get the maximum water pressure.”
Carroll County Schools is eager for the three-way agreement because the alternative would be more costly in the long run than the $800,000 the system has offered for the infrastructure upgrade.
According to Goldberg, Mt. Zion Elementary and Mt. Zion High School, which will be funded with the 2008 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax, would have to be equipped with one water tank each to serve their fire suppression systems.
A water suppression tank is a reservoir that holds water and provides the adequate amount of water pressure to the suppression system in case of fires. The two tanks are a part of the school’s original design and are estimated to cost around $640,000.
“These fire suppression tanks are very expensive,” Goldberg said. “Also, you have to do the maintenance and the upkeep on them for years and years. You have to change the water in these things and keep the pumps maintained, so if you ever had to run them, they’d work. It gets to be expensive in the long run.”
Goldberg, who initiated the talks between the three groups, said if some sort of a deal could be put together soon, then Mt. Zion Elementary could have its water turned on in about 150 days. If no agreement is ever reached, then the school system would return to its original plan of installing tanks - something Goldberg says he does not really want to do.
However, a delay in the agreement will not result in a delay in the opening of Mt. Zion Elementary next January.
“We’ll have water going to the schools,” Goldberg said. “It may not be the adequate pressure, but I think we can get a variance from the fire marshal until the (high pressure) water comes.”
The $800,000 the county schools offered for the infrastructure upgrade will come from the special purpose local option sales tax, according to Goldberg.
“I’d rather spend the taxpayers’ money improving the infrastructure and help everybody out in the community, instead of having a big tank that holds water and will never get used,” he said. “I really hope that the county commissioners can approve (the deal), so we can get rolling.”