Jackson County Water Company (JCWC) General Manager Larry Foster is watching carefully as the effort unfolds to make the proposed Garrett Ridge Waterline Extension Project in Vinton County a reality with the financial help of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The CARES Act is a massive bill the U.S. Congress passed to help different sectors of the nation recover from the ill economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 In a recent interview with The Telegram, Foster said JCWC supports the effort, which is being led by Vinton County Commissioner Mark Fout. The proposed emergency project has been supported with written letters from the Vinton County Health Department, the Vinton County Local Schools, the Jackson Township Trustees and from Total Media via an editorial published in The Telegram. U.S. Congressman Steve Stivers and U.S. Senator Rob Portman also are looking for funding options.

Foster explained the saltwater tables and the high elevation, along with the fear of COVID-19 spread -- as water is a killing agent -- certainly support the argument that the project constitutes an emergency. He wants the residents to know that JCWC is making the project a priority.

“We are very interested in this project and were already studying it,” said Foster. “It is vital the funding is in place. It is also important any grant or COVID money we get does not have so many strings attached it makes the project impractical or too expensive.” Another important point Foster makes is the project has to work from hydraulic and pressure standpoints. The high elevations do drive up the costs as well.

Having said that, Foster pointed out that community cooperation is needed. Anyone who can help by waiving a right-of-way or donating property, if needed, to get a water line through or to place a water tank would be appreciated. 

“As always, I am taking a conservative approach,” said Foster. “I cannot make any promises except for being interested if all the factors fall into place. I would love for those people to become our customers, but we must see how the funding plays out.” 

Foster is also pleased the county is developing a countywide “Water Master Map.” When it is finished, the map will show where water is and where it is needed. It will help in the planning process and make it easier for the county to have a shovel-ready project when funding becomes available. Sometimes, the funding windows are short and a ready-for-bid project may have a better chance of being funded.

 Foster is proud of the commitment the company has made to the county and wants to do more in the future.

JCWC is now serving many rural parts of Vinton County including West Elementary School and businesses in the Allensville area. In March, the Village of Hamden also started purchasing water from JCWC with that service area also including South Elementary School. The company also operates water vending stations just south of McArthur on State Route 93 and at the Richland Township Fire Station (signed as McArthur II) on U.S. Route 50 near Cross Creek.