At long last Columbiana County is nearing an agreement with the city of Salem to purchase water again.
Three years following an acrimonious split over the prison water contract, a tentative agreement was reached between County Engineer Bert Dawson and Salem officials recently.
The Salem Utilities Commission spent most of its meeting Tuesday fine-tuning the latest draft of the agreement.
The water would come from an existing Salem waterline that serviced the federal prison in Elkton for 10 years. Under the contract, commissioners purchased the water from Salem and resold it to the prison.
The waterline has been dormant since 2006, when the contract came up for renewal and commissioners dropped Salem and started purchasing water for the prison from the Buckeye Water District. Commissioners were unhappy with Salem's continued refusal to sell the county water from the line for other projects, and then Salem tried to bypass commissioners by offering to sell water directly to the prison.
The plan is to run a separate line off the former prison waterline south on Gamble Road to the Robert Bycroft School on state Route 172, a distance of about one mile. From there, the line would go to the Sheltered Workshop located over the hill on County Home Road and to the county juvenile detention center, county jail and county dog pound, which are located nearby on County Home Road.
The next step is for both Salem and county commissioners to approve the agreement.
This contract could solve a lot of water quality and quantity problems being experienced by the county agencies which would be serviced by this line. And, we hope, the availability of water will encourage economic development in the area. Kudos to everyone involved in working toward resolving this issue.