ALBANY, Ga. — Albany's Water, Gas & Light Commission Board voted Thursday to allow officials at the Flint RiverQuarium to move forward with plans to dig a well on RiverQuarium property.
RiverQuarium officials, who were not available for comment Thursday by The Herald's press time, had already received state Environmental Protection Division approval to dig the well, which would allow the aquarium to provide water for its fish without having to go through the tedious — and expensive — process of dechlorinating water provided by WG&L.
"(RiverQuarium officials) still must get approval from the Health Department, but I think they've answered all the questions this board has," WG&L Board Chairman, and Albany Mayor, Dorothy Hubbard said.
Doug Wilson with the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center in Albany said the RiverQuarium uses as much as 30,000 gallons of water a week.
Also at Thursday's monthly meeting, WG&L Director of Fiscal Affairs John Vansant said the utility had collected $3.6 million for its total system during the current fiscal year, some $680,000 below budget projections. Vansant also said WG&L had $4.4 million in reserve funds and would have $6.8 million by the end of the fiscal year if it meets budgeted goals.
"I know I sound like a broken record, but I want to see us put away as much money as we can in case we have an emergency," board member Bob Hutchinson said. "We've got to monitor this; we can't continue to spend and spend and spend."
Light Director Jimmy Norman offered a perfect example of just such an unplanned emergency with a four-minute film entitled "The Albany Tornado." The photographs and film clips in the film were taken after a tornado devastated downtown Albany Feb. 10, 1940.
"We always hope and pray for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst," Norman said. "We're prepared as far as our work force goes; we have some of the best line people in the state. Financially, though, that's y'all's area."
The board also got a video update on the progress being made on the two nuclear units being constructed at Plant Vogtle in Burke County. Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia South Georgia Regional Manager John Giles presented the video, which is available on the Web at southerncompany.com.
"MEAG owns 22.7 percent of this plant, and Albany owns 5 percent," Giles said. "There will be a 40-year debt service on the plant, but you won't be a part of paying that service for 20 years."
The video said 2,300 employees had put in 10 million work hours on the project.