County, Robbins Looking at Water Deal
The Moore County Board of Commissioners gave County Manager Cary McSwain the go-ahead Tuesday to set up a joint water negotiating session with the Robbins Town Board.
Mayor Lonnie English and other town commissioners came down to Carthage to hear a presentation on water sources before the county board, which evaluated Robbins as a potential water source over 10- and 30-year periods. English said he liked what he heard.
A North West Moore Water District was not considered in this analysis, as it would be self-sufficient, commissioners were told. Additional wells for short-term and long-term water supply along with optimizing Harnett County supply were also suggested as possibilities for the early stage.
Moore County now supplies its customers 2.755 million gallons a day (mgd) on average, though its "worst day" demand - the maximum amount - is nearly double that: almost 4.7 mgd. By 2040, Moore County's population is projected to grow from 24,838 to 41,540, with nearly 20,000 water customers demanding an average of 4.303 million gallons. The maximum day demand would climb to 7.35 mgd. The county doesn't have enough water supply to meet that need.
Moore can just meet its present maximum demand, but its projected need 30 years out calls for 2.65 million more gallons a day to meet expected maximum day demands by 2040. That water will have to come from additional sources. One could be Robbins and the Deep River.
One model shown Tuesday afternoon pictured using an existing tank near the old Sentry Furniture site in Robbins, drilling new wells, and optimizing the existing Harnett County supply. That would be a short-term solution.
A 10-year model looked at getting 1.5 mgd from a new Robbins plant. With the maximum day demand in Robbins estimated at .4 mgd, that model pictured 1.1 mgd remaining for Moore County customers. It called for a new water plant and pump, a new raw water intake and two pump upgrades, building a 16-inch line from the new plant to a new tank, a 16-inch main along Mount Carmel Road and a 12-inch line along Dowd Road. Total cost for that 10-year Robbins alternative was projected at $14,44,172.
Looking further out, a 30-year Robbins plan would include drawing an additional 2.2 mgd from Deep River, expanding the new water treatment plant, and building a 16-inch main line along Beulah Hill Road to Seven Lakes, a new million-gallon tank on N.C. 73, and a 16-inch line along that state highway east of Seven Lakes. That would add 3.3 mgd - more than enough to satisfy the projected 2.65 mgd the county will need in 2040.
Cost of the 30-year investment was put at $15,169,975, for a total of nearly $30 million. None of that included any costs from negotiations with the town of Robbins for use of its assets.
'Time to Look'
The county is in good shape at the present time and has a water surplus, Commissioner Nick Picerno said. It's time to look ahead.
"I think if you don't look at these things - and just look strictly at the dollars - you are shortsighted," Picerno said. "I think there are so many more pieces to this puzzle than a math equation. ... I am just saying we have a chance right now. We have a water surplus at this point, so now is the time to look around at Robbins.
"Robbins needs help. They are part of Moore County, and they need help. Some of this is development of the economic impact of Moore County. We are having that discussion with Robbins and seeing what their vision is, how we can be a partner. While we have the chance to do it right, let's do it right. This is the best information we've ever had on water."
Chairman Larry Caddell said he was also looking for a long-term solution.
"The toughest thing I had as mayor - having run a business all my life where my business model never projected past three years - then, when I got elected mayor, I realized that you weren't making decisions for two months and two years," Caddell said, referring to his years as mayor of Carthage. He added:
"You are making them for 20 years. I can tell you in the town of Carthage, we had 3-2 votes - votes that, if they had failed, Carthage would not look like it is today. Somebody on that board had a vision of what they wanted for that town. We need to have partners. Sometimes the cheapest option isn't the best way to go. ...
"Right now, we have the information. I think we ought not to stop discussions with Robbins just because we have a cheaper alternative. It is just common sense; a good short-term fix is not going to work for the long run. Let us talk to everybody, turn every stone over, and make a good decision based on 20 years from today."
A number of short-term proposals were also presented for comparison. One calls for adding seven new wells (at 100 gallons per day) to meet the 10-year projected additional demand. That model estimated that 21 such new wells would be needed to meet 30-year water needs.
The cost of those new wells - brought on line in two phases - would be about $6.4 million for 10-year county water needs. Augmenting the Harnett County supply would cost around $1.5 million to bring up available supply from the current million gallons a day to the contract limit of 2 mgd.
About $1 million of that projected cost would cover two new 16-inch water mains that are also part of the Robbins 30-year model.
Afterward, the county manager said he considered adding that many new wells unrealistic.
"It is hardly likely we will be able to find 21 well sites because of the dispersement," McSwain told Robbins Commissioner Terri Holt. "That Zone 1 had 22 wells in it, but they are pretty close together. There is no idea you could actually get all 22 there because of who owns the land."
McSwain said afterward that the county's present weakness is not having a major water source, but that can be a strength.
"If we have multiple sources - from ground water and surface water and connectivity - that means if any systems go bad, we can get water from another source," McSwain said. "Lake Tillery is a tremendous source of raw water, but the Montgomery system through-put is poor. They have to do a tremendous upgrade before they are viable."
A larger, regional plan continues to be studied, he said.
Caddell asked new Robbins Mayor Lonnie English if he had any comments he'd like to make to the commissioners about the presentation. English was encouraged and hopeful.
"I think a lot of people in Robbins - and I've lived there most of my life - they have blinders on," English said. "When I say 'blinders on,' I mean they hate to talk about the future. I graduated in 1969 from North Moore, and I know most of the people I graduated with have left Robbins for one reason: because there is nothing really there for them. I think this water system - if our board approves that - could really help that."
Carthage Town Manager Carol Sparks reminded commissioners that the county seat has the capability of producing much more water than the town needs and could sell water to the county.
"We have a 22-million-gallon reservoir," Sparks said. "We have a water plant capable of producing a million gallons a day. We produce 350,000. My board, a few years ago, offered to sell the county 300,000 gallons a day. We have a line. The interconnection is there."
The county manager will set up a joint meeting between the Robbins and county boards to work on a water deal.
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