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Honda to buy water from Anniston

·         16 Mar 2011

·         The Anniston Star



Honda to buy water from Anniston


Many new Honda vehicles produced in North America could soon carry a little piece of Anniston with them and possibly help keep local water costs down at the same time.

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln is working out a deal to purchase water from the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board for use in the painting of all its vehicles. The deal could mean as much as $300,000 more a year in revenue for the water department. Officials of the water department say the proposed deal could help keep their costs down for the foreseeable future.

The $ 1.4 billion Honda plant employs approximately 4,000 people and is the sole production source of the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot sport utility vehicle and the Ridgeline pickup truck.

“ The water will be used in our manufacturing process, mostly in our paint department,” said Mark Morrison, spokesman for Honda Manufacturing.

Morrison said Honda’s current water supplier, the city of Lincoln, has been unable to supply the facility with water pure enough for its painting process.

“Anniston will be able to provide us with surface water, which is better quality,” Morrison said. “Lincoln is providing ground water, which has too many minerals.”

Jim Miller, general manager for Anniston Water Works, said the city’s water source, Coldwater Springs, is referred to as surface water since it is influenced by rainwater from time to time. He said the spring is much deeper than typical well water, meaning it does not have the higher chemical and mineral content.

Miller said having another large water customer should help keep department costs and customer water bills from rising too fast.

“ It helps reduce the amount of increase (customers) will see,” Miller said. “ There will not be a drop in water bills though.”

Miller said once both parties are ready, the water department will supply approximately 1 million gallons of water per day to Honda, making it one of the department’s largest customers. The department’s top two customers are the Anniston Army Depot and the Cleburne County Water Authority. Both use approximately 1 million gallons of water per day and supply Anniston Water Works about $300,000 each in annual revenue.

The water department has been searching for additional revenue sources since the recession began in 2008, hoping to lower the impact of cost increases to customers.

“ We’re working on ways to lessen the impact of upgrades,” Miller said. “More industrial revenue will keep costs from going up too fast.”

Miller said a contract between the department and Honda could be signed in a matter of days. However, that does not mean the department will immediately start supplying water to the plant, he added.

“It’ll be a little while — there is a good bit of construction that has to take place,” Miller said.

Miller said the water department would have to construct about 13 miles of large-diameter pipeline — a project that could take between 14 and 18 months. However, the department will not bear all the cost.

“ It will be a combination of sources for cost — Honda, the water works and maybe some grant funds,” Miller said.

But even with another large customer like Honda, the city’s water supply should not be significantly impacted.

“We’ve got a surplus of water,” Miller said. “Fifteen years ago, the water board had a surplus set aside to market outside the service area and we’ve been doing that.”

Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256235-3561.