Focused on a philosophy of raising water rates to cover operating
costs while using reserves to fund larger infrastructure projects, the
Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen is discussing short and long-term options
for town water needs.
There is currently a $257,463 shortfall in water and sewer,
which Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens estimated will likely end up at
Owens said he would recommend a mix of increasing the flat
and usage rates during the future water and sewer infrastructure needs workshop
Wednesday, April 30.
“We’ve got the lowest water rates around,” Alderwoman Lisa
Recommended water and sewer rate increases of 5 percent
could generate up to an additional $471,000 in revenue.
As for infrastructure projects, like upgrading lift station
No. 3, Owens said there is about $1.5 million short-term projects needed in the
next 4-5 years.
Steve Dellies, assistant public works director, listed lift
station No. 3 and replacing waterlines on Henderson,
Oxford and Greensboro
streets and Nathan and Sunset streets as priorities. The three projects would
Owens said he would prefer to start the process for
upgrading lift station No. 3 before July, taking money from reserves to cover
the cost. The item will likely be on May’s board meeting agenda.
Owens has said before the town is producing about as much
water as it can sell on peak days and the system has been neglected over the years.
“There’s also some looming, outstanding projects we need to
do,” Owens said, referring to the $15.9 million Southside Water Treatment Plant
About $3.7 million is set aside for the treatment plant, but
that money could be used for other projects.
Earlier in the workshop, the board heard presentations from
Dr. Richard Spruill, founder of Groundwater Management Associates, Inc., and
Jay Holley, hydrogeologist of GMA.
They referred to a study from 2005, saying many of the
wells’ yields have remained similar to where they were 9 years ago. The two
discussed water storage options for the long term, including aquifer storage
and recovery (ASR) and reverse osmosis (RO) or desalination.
ASR requires a source of water, and Spruill estimated the
process would take about 2 years to complete.
“It’s a management tool that allows
us to store water underground if we can find a source of water,” Spruill said.
With desalination, water is pushed
through a membrane so the salt does not pass through, and often yields 7.5
gallons of fresh water for every 10 gallons of water.
Spruill recommended Vukelich to evaluate using well No. 2 to
pump water from the north end to the south end of the island through the
existing pipeline, since well No. 2 is capable of the highest production.
“That’s something that we think you ought to consider,”
Spruill said. “My greatest fear is that well would go salty with
overutilization. The whole concept is proper management and lots of water
Board members requested to hear from the Cape Fear Public
Utility Authority during a future meeting about what it would mean if the town
became a customer as far as rates and projects. They also suggested having
Spruill and Holley conduct a feasibility study for the other options.
“We could turn a valve and become a customer immediately,
but do we want to do that?” asked Mike Vukelich, public work director.
The town already has an interlocal agreement with CFPUA in
the case of an emergency.
The full story will be
printed Thursday, May 8.