County Makes Progress on Utility Work
Moore County has no water crisis, and county leaders are conferring with other counties and several municipalities about collaborative efforts on water issues.
Commissioner Tim Lea made these statements Monday night after the Moore County Board of Commissioners had completed its regular agenda and was preparing to enter a closed session.
"There is no water crisis," Lea said upon questioning by a reporter.
His comments followed a meeting in which Public Works Director Dennis Brobst presented an update on the county's capital improvement projects for utilities.
They also followed issuance of a weekend news release in which the county reported a maximum water capacity of 5.6 million gallons a day, leaving the county with an excess quantity of 1.4 million gallons, even when demand peaks at 4.2 million gallons daily.
Lea was asked about the county's reaction to Pinehurst village efforts to buy industrial utilities in Scotland County to provide water and sewer services.
The county has also come under criticism in recent weeks for failure to participate in the water task force of the Moore County Summit, a community-driven collaboration of local governments and other public entities, including the schools and the Chamber of Commerce.
Information included in Brobst's presentation supported Lea's statement that the county has engaged in discussions and negotiations with Montgomery County, Harnett County and the municipalities of Southern Pines, Aberdeen, Laurinburg, Carthage and Robbins.
Brobst also reported that the county has prospects for an additional 1,342,400 million gallons of water daily, including half a million gallons from Montgomery County with the remaining coming from wells.
Work on No. 2 Course
That total includes 475,200 gallons per day expected from wells 5A and 9, which are planned for the famed No. 2 golf course in Pinehurst.
Brobst said this project will require replacement of the existing water treatment plant, a somewhat larger facility to be erected in the same wooded area beside the course.
This project is presently on hold, pending completion of village requirements and approval by village officials.
As part of his report, Brobst told the board that the county has scheduled $9.5 million in sewer improvements and $3.1 million in water improvements in 2009.
Brobst also had good news with a report that the $1.6 million elevated tank in Pinehurst has come in under budget.
He reported that the county can begin work on the Old Town sewer rehabilitation project as soon as the village of Pinehurst gives its approval. This $5.5 million project will involve rehabilitation of some 5.5 miles of sewer lines in the oldest part of the village.
Lift Station Replacements
Bids have already been awarded on the Lake Pinehurst sewer lift station replacement project, being funded with federal stimulus funds.
Other sewer projects scheduled for 2009 include two lift station permanent generators, $185,000, and geographic information system mapping, $50,000 (to be handled through in-house programming). Other water projects for the year include rehabilitation of the Seven Lakes North tank, three new wells in Pinehurst, a $350,000 upgrade of the Pinehurst Old Town distribution system, and $225,000 for Pinehurst wells 5A and 9.
The Seven Lakes-Montgomery County interconnection, estimated at $2,750,000, is on the 2010 water schedule, along with the final phases of the radio read meters project, well rehabilitation and the East Moore Water District interconnection with Carthage. Total cost of these projects is $4,248,000.
Brobst said the radio read meters are paying off because they make meter reading much easier and more accurate. The cost for phases four through seven is $1,040,000.
The county has applied to the Clean Water Trust Fund for a grant to proceed with construction of the Little River regional lift station, meeting a major sewer need for the town of Vass.
The cost is estimated at $4.2 million. Other sewer projects scheduled for 2010 include the final phase of the Lake Pinehurst sewer rehabilitation, equipment purchases and GIS mapping. Sewer projects scheduled for 2010 are expected to cost $5,290,000.
Capital improvements planned from 2011 through 2018 include $3.6 million for the Seven Lakes-Robbins interconnection, permanent generators, new wells, extensions of service and a distribution system replacement, a total of $8.5 million for water projects, plus $950,000 in sewer improvements.
Among the sewer projects is acquisition of a new vacuum truck to replace the old truck, which is still operational but wearing out, Brobst said.
Good news emerged from his update of the wastewater treatment plant, which must be enlarged and improved within coming years at a cost estimated at $32 million.
Brobst estimated that the county has $7.7 million available through capital reserves for construction, reducing the amount that must be borrowed. This means that it may not be necessary to raise rates again prior to completion of this project. A timetable has not been established, but the county is presently in the process of selecting a consultant to proceed with the planning stage.
Rainfall Below Normal
A breakdown of water capacity available to Pinehurst shows a total of 5,659,280 gallons per day, of which more than 2.7 million gallons a day come from wells in Pinehurst.
The report shows that 1,120,000 gallons are available through the East Moore Water District interconnection at Eastwood on U.S. 15-501, one million gallons from Aberdeen and 750,000 gallons from Southern Pines.
However, a footnote to this part of the report was sobering. It was a reminder that rainfall for the preceding 12 months is 9.22 inches below the normal level. Mandatory water conservation restrictions were lifted more than a year ago, but the county remains in the voluntary conservation stage.
The county owns and operates water facilities serving Pinehurst, Seven Lakes, Vass and several smaller systems. It also owns and operates the wastewater treatment plant serving Southern Pines, Pinehurst, Aberdeen, Pinebluff, Carthage and outlying areas, including Camp Mackall.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at (910) 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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