The Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA) is planning to hold a February meeting at St. Paul School to gauge community interest in possible water projects in Cana.
Engineer Kevin Heath told the PSA during its January meeting that federal funding agency Rural Development returned a search grant to the Authority several months ago for the Cana and Exit 1 areas of Interstate 77 for water system needs.
He said the Cana system was developed by the Carroll PSA 12 to 15 years ago. When the system was initially developed, there were a total of eight wells. Two of the original wells have been lost, however, and two others are currently being used on a very limited basis because the water quality has deteriorated over the years.
“Essentially that system is currently in normal day-to-day operations utilizing four wells for supply,” Heath said. “The system currently serves about 440 customers.”
Heath said the Exit 1 system was initially developed to serve the east side of the I-77 Exit 1 interchange area. It was just recently expanded and completed. He noted the system is served by three wells the PSA drilled and tested, as well as a connection to the City of Mount Airy’s (N.C.) water supply.
“They have a water storage tank that serves the welcome centers,” Heath said. “That system currently serves about 60 customers.”
The engineer noted the preliminary engineering report (PER) found a couple of primary needs. The first is a long-range water supply that could potentially reduce the dependence on wells or increase the system’s viability by some source other than wells. Another need would be to address folks who have requested water service in the Meadowbrook area of Cana.
Delving closer into a possible Meadowbrook Road project, Heath said the PER shows potential water extensions that would connect to the existing PSA water system near U.S. 52 and Bear Trail. Such a project would serve a potential of 75 homes, Heath said, and would cost an estimated $1,796,300 to construct.
A variation of the Meadowbrook Road extension would not make a loop connection to Route 52. It would cut off one section of line to reduce the overall project cost to $1,543,500, but still serve 65 potential customers.
Heath noted the Authority also looked at two different routes to potentially connect the Exit 1 system to the Cana system. The first alternative would follow Old Pipers Gap Road and Brushy Fork Road to tie the two systems together.
“That routing has a total of 100 homes that would be potential customers to the PSA at a total estimated development cost of $1.7 million,” he said. “We also looked at a line routing that would connect to Exit 1 and the Cana systems along Flower Gap Road. That routing also would have approximately 100 potential residential customers with a total estimated project cost of $1,890,750.”
Finally, Heath said the PSA looked at a project that would combine a Meadowbrook Road component and a connection between Exit 1 and the Cana system that follows the proposed Brushy Fork routing.
“You could combine those two into a single project that could potentially serve 165 customers. It would interconnect the Exit 1 and Cana systems and allow the PSA to utilize a long-range water source connection from the City of Mount Airy to supplement and supply these systems for existing customers as well as future growth,” Heath said. “We would estimate that combined project at just under $3.2 million.”
Heath explained that Carroll County’s current water agreement with Mount Airy expires in November 2018. If approved and funding were secured, he said any of the previously mentioned projects would finish up close to the expiration of the Mount Airy contract. Heath said Carroll’s current wells would not support that system, however, so Carroll would still be relying on Mount Airy to supplement its continued use of existing wells. Heath noted both the Old Pipers Gap Road routing and Flowers Gap Road routing would serve an equal number of customers.
“Which route has the most people interested? Which has worse wells? Does one route have more people interested or are some dead set against it?” Authority member James Light asked.
Carroll PSA Executive Director Jessica Montgomery said those questions are unknown because the PSA has yet to take sign-ups in those areas. The Authority has been approached before with water requests on Sandy Ridge Road, she said.
Light also wanted to know if Carroll would have to beg Mount Airy for another water agreement to tie systems together.
“I can’t speak for them, but I am very confident based on past meetings and discussions with them they are very interested in selling to the PSA as well as other folks more water than they currently are,” Heath said.
Heath noted Carroll has also explored a scenario to sell Mount Airy sewage off the U.S. 52 line to help leverage a water deal. PSA member Keith Meredith said sewer currently only comes to Greenhill Road on U.S. 52, so there is a gap of about 2.2 miles between Greenhill Road and the N.C. state line.
“Mount Airy has lost a lot of textiles, so they have an abundance of water down there,” PSA member William Payne said.
Heath explained Carroll’s current connection with Mount Airy was paid for by the Virginia and North Carolina departments of transportation (DOTs). Because of that, there is a restriction if any customer with a need or demand of more than 10,000 gallons per day connects to that line within 10 years of its completion, then the two DOTs and Mount Airy are obligated to charge a connection fee to the entity connecting to the line in proportion to the construction cost of the line.
“In other words, if we bought more than 10,000 gallons per day right now then we would have a connection fee set as a percentage of that initial construction cost, which in round numbers was around $3 million,” Heath said. “Right now we are purchasing well under 10,000 gallons per day. There have been inquiries about whether the two DOTs would waive that requirement, and the response so far has been they would not.”
Meredith said the PSA needs to find out what residents in Cana want. Payne said the PSA needs to do something because the current customers in Cana will run out of water eventually.
The talk then turned to the PSA hosting community meetings in Cana to gauge interest in the projects. Heath said the Authority has already held a meeting for the Meadowbrook Road area. A high percentage of residents went ahead with sign-ups and user agreements. As far as the other areas, he didn’t know what the interest would be.
“I think it needs to be cost effective either way, but long term I think you need to have it in mind we are going to ultimately lose wells and we need to tie on to the city,” Meredith said.
Light said it needs to be explained at the meeting “nothing will happen tomorrow. This is long term and we are going to have to tie these things together and see which route to go. It will take years to get funded for this.”
At that point, Payne made a motion to move on with the project and set up a community meeting in February at St. Paul School. Light seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
The meeting at St. Paul School had not been finalized as of press time, but PSA staff told The Carroll News it would most likely take place between Feb. 20 and Feb. 25.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]