County Seeks Meeting With Robbins on 'Tweaked' Water Proposal
Of seven potential water sources, Moore County will focus attention first on a resource at home — the town of Robbins.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners reached a consensus Thursday to concentrate on a partnership with Robbins.
The board instructed the public works director to “tweak” the existing figures on the Robbins water potential and instructed the county manager to arrange a joint meeting with the Robbins town board.
“The one thing we can’t do is do nothing,” Board Chairman Larry Caddell said in an overall assessment of the county’s water situation.
The decision to examine the Robbins water alternative does not mean that the county is dropping consideration of other options. Drilling for more wells remains among the viable options, along with a study of purchase contracts, formation of consortiums or partnerships with systems available in Harnett County, Sanford, Laurinburg, Asheboro and the privately owned WestPoint-Stevens facility near Wagram in Scotland County.
“This is a Moore County system, and Robbins is in Moore County,” Commis-sioner Nick Picerno said, pointing out that investment in a Robbins system would be keeping the money in Moore County.
The discussion was held during the Thursday afternoon session of the commissioners’ annual business retreat, held at the Senior Enrichment Center. It continued through Friday morning.
In his presentation on water sources, Public Works Director Randy Gould told the board that the county’s several systems have an average daily demand of almost 3 million gallons. The maximum daily demand — on, for example, an exceptionally hot day in summer — climbs to 4.8 million gallons.
These figures serve 12,205 customers (connections) among a population of 24,990 in Pinehurst and Vass and several unincorporated communities.
The village of Pinehurst is the largest customer base, with 7,669 water connections, followed by Seven Lakes, with 2,540 connections. These systems are interconnected with the East Moore Water District, the town of Vass, Hyland Hills/Niagara and an area near Robbins. Not interconnected but still part of the county water system are High Falls, The Carolina development and the Addor community south of Pinebluff.
Gould projected population growth along with increases in water demand for periods up to the years 2020 and 2040. He estimated population growth in excess of 33,000 by 2020, with average daily demand at 3.3 million gallons and maximum daily demand at 5.8 million gallons.
He described a day when the maximum demand is reached as “the worst day in the year.”
Within 30 years, the maximum demand may climb as high as 7.9 million gallons a day, an addition of 3.1 million gallons above the existing maximum demand.
This means that the county must expand water sources to serve the expected growth within the next 20 to 50 years.
Gould reviewed the existing situation and presented prospective alliances with other water systems, along with estimated costs.
The commissioners agreed that the present policy of drilling at least one new well every two years should remain in place, and Commissioner Tim Lea pointed out that wells represent the least expensive of options.
“I don’t want to quit using wells, but we can’t rely on them alone,” Caddell said.
Commissioner Jimmy Melton agreed with the long-term goal of adding wells but said the county needs to upgrade its system with viable alternatives. He noted that the county faces “a wide range of choices.”
District Option Dropped
Commissioner Craig Kennedy said that it may not be possible to form the North West Moore Water District. Even so, he said, that area would provide a line to Seven Lakes, now served by wells, as is Pinehurst. Kennedy lives in the Westmoore community.
North West Moore is a water district under consideration since 2006, when voters in those townships approved a $16 million bond issue to pay for a water system.
The concept is similar to the successful district serving thousands of customers in East Moore. However, the sparse distribution of population in North West Moore has interfered with development of that water district.
The county recently received authorization from the Local Government Commission to extend the bond issue through 2014. Such authority would enable the county to apply for low-interest loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Division of Rural Development.
Under exploration has been the option of extending water lines from a North West Moore district from Robbins to Seven Lakes. Under such an arrangement, the county would buy water from the district to serve Seven Lakes. But first, arrangements must be worked out with Robbins municipal leaders, something that has been discussed but not consummated.
Kennedy said enhancement of the Robbins system would be a plus for that entire area of the county. He said the availability of more water would be attractive to new business as well as residents.
He suggested that the Robbins option be “tweaked” for further discussion with Robbins leaders.
Picerno said he would like the county to remove North West Moore, for the time being, from this study and to concentrate its efforts on Robbins. He proposed that the county seek a joint meeting with the Robbins board and called for it to be an open meeting with the public invited. (At a previous meeting some board members expressed preference for negotiating with Robbins in a closed session, a proposal that met with opposition.)
The board reached a consensus to concentrate first on the Robbins system. Gould said it would take about two weeks to “tweak” the Robbins option in preparation for a meeting with the Robbins board, and the board asked County Manager Cary McSwain to make arrangements for a meeting with Robbins.
Gould’s report included projected costs for the Robbins water system upgrade for a 10-year program and a 30-year span. The 10-year projection, estimated at $20 million, would include North West Moore, costing $6.6 million, along with $7.6 million for a new water plant and pump plus the cost of raw water intake, pump upgrades, and a 20-inch line from the plant to the tank in Robbins. The water source would be Bear Creek.
The cost climbs to an estimated $17.4 million for the 30-year projection, which includes $7.1 million for a new plant and pump upgrade. This projection includes $2.6 million for a 16-inch raw water main and $3.4 million for a 16-inch line along Mount Carmel Road.
Added to the total would be such things as a tank on N.C. 73, raw water intake and pump station, water lines along N.C. 73 and N.C. 211 to Seven Lakes.
The requested “tweaking” would include such things as removal of the North West Moore district and some changes in the routing of water lines.
The board also discussed in detail the other options, including an offer from Harnett County for Moore County to buy a percentage of a major expansion of the Harnett system. The county already buys water from Harnett County for the East Moore district and for an extension of the system serving Pinehurst. Moore County also buys water from Southern Pines and Aberdeen.
The discussion included such issues as interbasin transfers and policy concerning allocation of resources in time of drought.
The commissioners also heard reports on Thursday from the Moore County school system, Sandhills Community College, the county’s information technology staff, Partners in Progress, and the public safety sector on the change in emergency communications.
The Thursday morning session featured presentations by Finance Director Carrie Neal, Tax Admin-istrator Wayne Vest, and Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Caleb Miles.
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