Concerns Aired on Water
Pinehurst residents have renewed their pleas for water system improvements.
Their comments came at the conclusion of an updated report from McGill Associates, the engineering firm that conducted a comprehensive study of countywide water needs more than a year ago, during a work session of the Moore County Board of Commissioners Thursday.
The review re-emphasizes the county's reliance on water purchased from other systems.
"We need back-up water," Mayor George Lane of Pinehurst said af-ter reminding the board that the county periodically suffers drought and yet growth continues with more people moving here to enjoy golf amenities.
Robbins Mayor Theron Bell said that her town has water facilities that can be made available to the county. The town and the county have been in discussions about using Robbins facilities for more than a year.
"It's extremely important to remember that we need to plan for tomorrow as well as for today," Bell said.
Complaints from Pinehurst residents drew a rebuttal from some commissioners, who said the county is doing more to improve utilities than is being credited to Moore County Public Utilities.
"There's a misconception that the county has been dragging its feet and not being pro-active," said Commissioner Tim Lea.
At the board's regular meeting Monday night, Lea asked that a memorandum on water options between the county and the town of Robbins be read into the minutes as a reminder of those initiatives. The memorandum was dated Jan. 4, 2008, two days after county and Robbins officials met to discuss the best way to explore those options.
Lea said he wanted to make sure the public understands that the county has been aggressive in pursuing water options.
But Pinehurst resident Walter Bull said he did not have much confidence in the management of county utilities. He cited a series of complaints, including a delay in completion of the sewer rehabilitation project in the Lake Pinehurst area.
That prompted Commissioner Larry Caddell to ask Ben Vaughn, operations manager for the county's Department of Public Works, to explain why the Lake Pinehurst project was delayed. He replied that it was held up by the contractor because of economic issues.
"We're moving in the right direction," said Lea, holding up a schedule of utility projects for Pinehurst. "I understand why you want it done yesterday."
Lea said that former county Commissioner Colin McKenzie, a Pinehurst resident, had worked tirelessly to improve utilities in the village during his 12 years on the board. McKenzie, who did not seek re-election last year, was serving as board chairman when he retired. He was in the audience Thursday night but did not speak.
"Sometimes it looks like we're dragging our feet when we're not," said Caddell. "It takes time to get things up and running."
Lea added that progress is being made. He cited such recent improvements as the interconnection of the county system with East Moore Water District last year, a project that makes a half million additional gallons available to Pinehurst, and the upgrade of pump stations along N.C. 211.
Dave Kinney, speaking on behalf of Seven Lakes residents, called attention to the fact that all but two of the wells serving the development have been shut down in recent years because of contamination. The need for water in Area A, which includes Seven Lakes and West End, will become even more acute in coming years, he predicted, because of an expected population growth of several thousand.
Mike Apke, an engineer with McGill, opened his report with the reminder that a review of water demand projects shows a need for the county to find additional water sources. He said the county needs to become more aggressive in dealing with Montgomery County in working out a water purchase agreement.
"They are interested," he said.
In the water study, the McGill engineers made a number of recommendations to increase water resources, especially in the Seven Lakes and Pinehurst areas. Among them are extension of water lines from Montgomery County along N.C. 211, a project estimated to cost $2,750,000, and a partnership with the town of Robbins to restore the town's water treatment plant, a project that would make 1.5 million gallons of water available to be pumped to Seven Lakes.
This supply of water to Seven Lakes would relieve the county system and thus reduce pressure on the system serving Pinehurst.
Apke said that in conjunction with the Robbins water plant, the county could extend water service from Robbins to Seven Lakes at an estimated cost of $3.6 million. He said a cost analysis for the Robbins water plant rehabilitation is nearing completion.
He said that inter-basin transfer laws impact the way the county can run water lines from one river basin into another. Water systems must secure a transfer certificate if more than 2 million gallons daily are transferred from one basin to another. Moore County lies within three basins, Cape Fear, Lumber River and a sub-basin of Deep River.
"Purchased water will be necessary in Moore County for many years to come," Apke said.
In addition to Montgomery County and Robbins, the report says Moore County should continue to monitor a Scotland County study of Lumber River intake. It recommends an upgrade of the county connection between Pinehurst and the Southern Pines municipal system and construction of an emergency interconnection with the town of Pinebluff.
The study notes water needs for the town of Cameron and recommends a look at a possible interconnection with the city of Sanford or with East Moore Water District.
Apke warned that groundwater will continue to be an important future source of potable water and that the county has minimal surface water sources worth developing. Although Deep River, near Robbins, offers the greatest potential for water, it is not close to the areas of high demand, he added.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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