PERRY -- When it comes to assessing services that impact quality of life in a community, water might be the most important of all.
Its the one thing government provides that everyone uses every day, and no one can live without.
On that score, Houston County officials believe they rank as well as anywhere else in the state. At the June 5 county commission meeting, the board recognized water treatment system employees for having won 38 awards since 1994, including a Small System Plant of the Year honor given to the Haynesville system in April by the Georgia Association of Water Professionals.
I can think of a lot of people in the county that the service they provide to the citizens, the citizens dont really realize it until its not there, and water is one of them, said Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker. You try to get up in the morning to go work and take a shower and the water is off, we all hear about it.
Grady Trussell Jr., the countys plant manager for the four water systems it operates, said applying for the awards has improved the water systems operations. He said the Georgia Association of Water Professionals sets a high standard, and the county cant even apply for an award if it has even one water or safety violation. An evaluation team comes and spends three days checking out the operation, and a system has to clear 90 percent of the checklist to be considered for an award.
The Haynesville system serves about 1,000 people. The Feagin Mill system is the countys largest, serving 66,000 people. The other two systems -- Elko and Henderson -- are small. All of the systems have won multiple awards.
In north Georgia, most water systems use surface water, Trussell said, but in south Georgia, including Houston County, nearly all water comes from deep wells. He said the water the county pumps out is crystal clear and requires only minimal treatment.
He said the water level in the wells is checked regularly, and when it drops its only a small percentage of the depth and always recharges fairly quickly.
We are probably one of the most fortunate systems in sitting on the aquifer that we are, he said.
At the commission meeting, Stalnaker pointed out the bottled water in front of him.
Thats only for convenience, he said. What comes out of the tap in Houston County is better than bottled water.