The economic downturn created a boon for the Lamar County water authority as bids for the upcoming water line project came in.With $2,933,874 to spend, the low bid from Strack, Inc., of Fairburn came in at $1,437,207. Coupled with $264,839 in engineering and legal fees, that left $1,231,828 to lay in more lines with Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority grant/loan funds.”Bids were substantially lower than our estimated costs,” said engineer Tom Sloope. “It has everything to do with the economy and lack of work. It’s not uncommon now to see this sort of pricing.”What is now phase I of the project will lay lines on Highway 36 East and Etheridge Mill, Abbott, Grape Creek, Morgan Dairy, Barnesville, Five Points and Piedmont roads. Work will begin with smaller connector lines needed to loop parts of the system together then branch out to bring service to customers. So far, 45 people have signed up, raising hopes that more than the projected 50% of possible customers will sign up.”When we complete this we’ll be buying most of our water from Barnesville,” Sloope said. This is also a cost savings since other water providers charge more.Using bid change orders, connector lines will be installed on Trice and Skinner’s Bypass Roads, tying in to Milner at Main Street and helping loop that system for better water pressure. That project will cost an estimated $72,594 and bring in at least 17 of 34 possible new customers.