County Returning to Water Summit
The Moore County Summit Water Task Force is exploring the formation of a water and sewer authority. To read that story, click here.
The specter of MoWASA arose Thursday along with an announcement that the county will return to the Summit's Water Task Force meetings.
Tim Lea, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, advised a gathering of elected officials that his board will be represented at the next meeting of the task force. The forum was one in a series of meetings hosted by the commissioners for all elected officials in the county.
"We have since re-evaluated our position, and there will be representation at the next meeting," Lea said.
Lea said the issue had been discussed with his fellow commissioners, and all are in agreement. He expressed appreciation for the task force's invitation to participate in the Tuesday, Aug. 17, meeting, to be held from 9 until 11 a.m. in the Chamber of Commerce conference room in Southern Pines.
Although the county had dropped out of Summit meetings, the commissioners went out of their way to explain that they have been actively engaged in discussions and negotiations with Robbins and Pinehurst officials and have also been discussing water purchase agreements with other local governments.
Commissioner Larry Caddell, who has been representing the commissioners in most of the water discussions, said he and other county officials have worked diligently to resolve water needs of the county and municipalities.
He said the county has decided to look at the Robbins system as an option for water purchases before studying other potential sources. This was a reference to the county's refusal to participate in a regional study of water and sewer facilities on the Lumber River near Wagram in Scotland County.
"I'm just the guy who drew the short straw," Caddell said. "I was chosen because I'm the only one with experience with municipal water management."
Caddell is a former mayor of Carthage. He was reacting to a light-hearted comment describing him as the water "czar."
"Larry is a czar," Pinehurst Village Councilman Doug Lapins said. "There are good czars and bad czars. Larry is a good czar."
In a presentation from the water task force, Chamber President Patrick Coughlin called water a priority for every person in attendance at the forum. However, he said that it would be "unfair, unrealistic and inappropriate" to expect the county to shoulder all of the burden.
Coughlin reviewed the 2005 establishment of the Summit, which was the brainchild of the late George Lane, president of the Pinehurst Civic Club and later mayor of Pinehurst. Lane recruited assistance from David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot, who became a partner in sponsoring the program designed to encourage cooperation between the county, the 11 municipalities, elected officials and other leaders.
The Chamber of Commerce was next recruited to serve as facilitator and administrator.
One of the cooperative measures was support for a professional independent study of the water situation in Moore County, with the county and several municipalities sharing the expense in sponsoring the McGill study. The Summit formed a water task force, now chaired by Frank Zamaroni, of Whispering Pines.
At a previous elected officials' forum, the county commissioners were quizzed about the absence of county representation at Summit meetings. Lea responded that the Summit had no authority to negotiate or to enact ordinances, authority for which is in the hands of local, state and federal governments.
Coughlin distributed copies of a draft resolution supporting "the exploration by the Moore County Summit Water Task Force, of a new regional water and sewer authority with the express purpose of addressing the current and future water source and wastewater treatment needs of Moore County overall."
MoWASA (Moore Water and Sewer Authority) was dismantled by the county several years ago because of political and administrative issues.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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