County gains more funds for water and wastewater upgrades

Published 11:06 am Thursday, April 11, 2024

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GATESVILLE – As local government officials here prioritize ways to invest $9.8 million appropriated last year through the state budget for water/wastewater improvements, the county has learned they will be awarded even more funding for the same purpose.

The North Carolina Water Infrastructure Authority recently approved four water/sewer projects for Gates County. The county commissioners, at their regularly scheduled meeting on March 20, were advised that $383,000 was approved for the evaluation of the county’s water system, which will identity all of the system’s assets (valves, connection points) plus a hydraulic study.

A wastewater asset study ($167,000) was also approved.

“Those two studies will provide a wealth of information as this board prioritizes the $9.8 million the county received from the state budget for water/wastewater improvements,” said Gates County Manager Scott Sauer.

He added that the county will receive $328,000 for the lead service line inventory study. That money is a 35 percent grant and a zero interest loan.

“This study will provide an inventory of the water lines running from the meter to the homes to help identify which customers have lead pipes,” Sauer explained.

The state has also approved $2.2 million to restore the original wastewater treatment plant located behind the old state prison. $1.5 million of that is a grant with the remainder as a 20-year, zero interest loan.

“That money will go a long way in maintaining the life of that facility and to increase its capacity,” Sauer noted.

As for the $9.8 million awarded last year to the county through the state budget, Sauer said that Brad Arnold, the county’s Public Works Director, has outlined some of the priorities.

“We believe the top priority is having an additional well installed,” Sauer stressed. “The location of that well will be based on the hydraulic study.”

Sauer added that the county’s public water system currently operates using three wells, but only one is functioning at full capacity.

“If that one now operating at full capacity should go out, we would be in a world of hurt,” he warned.

Another priority is replacing the existing water tank in Gatesville.

A 12-inch water supply line is needed to serve residential and commercial customers west of Gatesville.

Another priority is connecting current “dead ends” along the water lines. One in particular is at Bennett’s Creek in Gatesville. Another is a capped line along Carter’s Road.

Money is also needed to make overdue upgrades to the water plant.

“These priority projects will take roughly $6.5 million of the money we received from the state allocation,” Sauer said. “Of the remaining $3.3 million, I think the board has some flexibility to tackle some other projects.”

In other public works news from the March 20 meeting, Sauer gave an update on the water meter replacement project, which was approved last year. Of the 4,600 meters in need of replacing, Sauer said approximately 40 percent of that project is complete (1,660 new meters installed as of March 20).

Arnold said he hopes the project can be completed by August 1.

Meanwhile, 15 new fire hydrants purchased by the county have arrived and will soon be installed in areas deemed “high priority” by the local fire departments.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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