County plans major water expansion
Columbus County is about to embark on a major expansion of its water service, growing the number of customers served by about 18 percent. Most of the growth planned, both in numbers of customers and amount of money to be spent, will occur in the eastern end of the county, which residents have long complained has been neglected.
If enough people sign up for service – and that’s a big “if” – the county projects that 1,038 new customers could join the system.
Public Utilities Director Harold Nobles said that letters will go out to unserved residents in the areas being expanded asking them to sign up for service. “We’ll ask them to sign up within 90 days of receiving their letters,” Nobles said. If residents agree to hook up and the project is feasible to complete, the hookup fee will be $150 per customer during the construction phase, according to Nobles.
Work on the east end, Water District IV, will not begin as soon as work in the other districts because financing and grants to pay for the District IV improvements still are in the application phase. “We’re still applying and we’ll have to wait for [USDA] Rural Development for our answers,” said Nobles. “That could push us into November before we even get an answer from them, so no contracts have been let, and nothing’s concrete. District IV is still in the development and planning process.”
Work in the other districts will happen sooner, since it’s going to be accomplished with funds balances already set aside in each district. “Hopefully, we’ll get started in Districts I, II, III and V this summer,” Nobles said, “but that’s not certain.”
About three-fourths of the planned expenditures will be in District IV, with the remainder spent in the rest of the county. East end projected costs are $13.14 million, with $4.15 million slated to be spent elsewhere. Similarly, more of the new water customers – 829 – would be in District IV, while 209 would be spread among Districts I, II, III and V.
There currently are 5,845 water customers on the county system, according to Amanda Davis, executive assistant in the Public Utilities Department, so the addition of another 1,038 would result in an increase of 17.76 percent. District I currently has 1,253 customers, while there are 1,851 in District II, 1,108 in District III, 1,074 in District IV and 561 in District V.
Projects, with the projected number of users, total cost and average cost per user, are as follows:
District I (52 users, $583,311 total cost, $11,410 average cost per user): Wright Rd., 20 users; Cedar Tree Rd., 10 users; Sandy Pitt Rd., 6 users; and Frank Norris Rd. 16 users.
District II (56 users, $1,173796 total cost, $20,961 per user): Clarendon-Chadbourn Rd., 20 users; Otto Nance Rd., 20 users and Joe Piver/Arthur Graham Rd., 16 users;
District III (16 users, $1,148,577 total cost, $71,786 average cost per user): Lynn Hill Rd., 6 users and Inman N. Lake Dr., 10 users.
District IV (829 users, $13,114,625 total cost, $15,856 average cost per user): Riegelwood Sanitary District Internal, 180 users; Gen. Howe Hwy., 10 users; Oscar Blanks Rd., 9 users; Livingston Chapel Rd., 60 users; Horseshoe Rd., 31 users; Water Tank Rd., 8 users; Lennon Rd., 23 users; Delco Prosper Rd., 26 users; Swimming Hole Rd., 38 users; Hallsboro Rd., 106 users; Rico Rd.,16 users; Baldwin Rd., 9 users; Jenkins Rd., 19 users; Millie-Christine Rd., 31 users; Farmers Union Rd., 23 users; Rehobeth Church Rd., 8 users; Craver Moore Rd., 40 users; Old North East Rd., 39 users; Chauncey Town Rd., 34 users; Curn Spaulding Rd., 23 users; Whitehold Rd., 50 users; Kellys Tr., 5 users; Byrdville Freeman Rd., 16 users; Millers Dr., 10 users; Matt Dale Rd., 14 users;
District V (85 users, $1,234,558 total cost, : $14,524 average cost per user): Seven Creeks Rd Hwy 905, 85 users.