The Transylvania Times -

County, Brevard And Rosman Look To Pool Resources For Water – Brevard NC

 


The creation of a water authority involving the City of Brevard, the town of Rosman and the county is something that will likely be considered in the near future.

This was one of the things that came out of a recent meeting of the Transylvania Natural Resources Council (TNRC). At the meeting, Brevard City Manager Jim Fatland and Transylvania County Manager Jaime Laughter discussed water issues and possible future plans. Rosman Mayor Brian Shelton didn’t attend the meeting, although he was scheduled to do so, but Laughter said the town is engaged.

“They want to be a part of the solution,” Laughter said, referring to Rosman’s involvement. “They want to be a part of the future.”

Fatland and Laughter gave the TNRC an update on the work each entity has done on the water issue.

“You had two water studies going on at the same time,” Fatland said. “Neither study really looked at using the current water plant at all.”

For several years, the city was working on preparing the groundwork for building a new water plant on the French Broad River. That focus rapidly changed after Joe Moore resigned in March 2015 as city manager and Fatland took over the position. Jay Johnson, the city’s then engineering and utilities director, had also been working on the necessary regulatory groundwork for a new water plant, but was told by Fatland that his position was being eliminated, effectively ending that process.

Fatland instead recommended forming a Public Works and Utilities Committee, which included two council members, to address the city’s water infrastructure. The city also hired McGill Associates, an Asheville engineering firm that specializes in water infrastructure and had also been hired by the county to assess its water needs, to analyze the city’s infrastructure and demands.

“We were asked to come in and bring the three parties together ,” said Keith Webb, a representative with McGill Associates. “We were asked to look at the demand projections.”

Webb said the projections were significantly lower than previous ones, causing a shift in the city’s stance.

“It was leading them down the path of building a new water treatment plant,” Webb said, referring to the previous numbers.

Fatland said the city shifted the conversation from building a new water plant based on population growth estimates and the aging of the current water plant.

“We were sitting on the solution,” Fatland said, referring to reinvesting in the city’s current assets.

In January, McGill Associates officially recommended to Brevard City Council that the city construct a second water intake at its existing water plant at Cathey’s Creek as opposed to building a new water plant.

The council has also approved a series of recent expenditures to make improvements at the Cathey’s Creek water plant. Since April 1, 2015, $250,000 has been spent on the water plant and other related infrastructure. The city has also spent $29,800 to retain McGill Associates.

Fatland said a new plant would have cost taxpayers more than $133 per month per customer for a more than $40 million water plant.

“That’s an outrageous amount,” Fatland said.

Laughter said water infrastructure can be crucial to business retention and recruitment. She said the three government entities have been meeting since last fall to figure out how to come together.

Laughter said the county has been looking at ways to get into the business of water and pointed to the city’s and county’s partnership on expanding water lines to the new home of Brevard Academy on the New Hendersonville Highway in Pisgah Forest.

The partnership would rely on current water infrastructure for its needs. However, Fatland said that eventually the city could look at building a new plant in the Rosman area, but it would be a number of years from now and would most likely require the county to pay for the connecting water lines of the plant. McGill Associates estimated the cost of the connecting water lines, which would bring water from the proposed plant to parts of the county and the City of Brevard, at $750,000.

Laughter said the three entities are still looking at how to form an agreement, saying one option is to form an official authority, which would require creating a governing board. A master plan showing where to run water lines, what the costs would be and what each entity can bring to the table is a likely step.

 
 

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