Some money it's not certain how much out of a $1.2 million grant that's been sitting around waiting for the three cities to agree on a plan for their water systems will finally be released for the study once Cumberland agrees.
With an interconnect, the three cities would be able to share water back and forth between their plants.
In Lynch and Benham, the councils have decided the study is a good idea. Cumberland council members asked for more time to look over the paperwork and will likely decide Tuesday whether they'll make the agreement complete.
The grant which will be paid when the study is complete and the three cities agree with each other and the state on how to best use the money was originally scheduled to expire in June 2002.
Coming to an agreement took longer than expected, and the deadline for a plan was extended again this year to 2006.
In the beginning, the grant money was intended for consolidating the three cities' water services, but that idea was not something the three cities could agree to, so the interconnection is on the table as a compromise, said Lynch Mayor Tom Vicini.
Vicini said he'd still like to see consolidation studied.
"I think it's time to look at these things," he said. "We have three water plants in a five-mile radius. If there is a more efficient way of providing water to the cities, we need to explore it."
Mayor Jeff Harrison said he'd like to use the million dollars to fix problems at the individual water plants, but he's willing to study the interconnect if that's what it takes to get the funds.
Benham Mayor Betty Howard was not available to comment on the agreement Friday, but Terina Collins, city clerk for Benham, said what happens with the cities' water systems may depend on whether the study shows citizens they can save money with an interconnect or merged system.
"The public may ultimately dictate" the future of the three cities' water systems once the study is complete, she said. "Everybody's just going to have to be patient."
The study would focus on the resources and needs of each city as well as the feasibility of a water system interconnect.
The agreement between the three cities is only to study the interconnect possibility; they are not agreeing to actually connect their water plants yet.