• 55°

Duke Energy won’t foot full bill for county’s water plans in Dukeville

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County government may not shoulder the largest financial burden during its first planned water line extension into a rural community, but it won’t be free from costs.

For the past few years, county commissioners have planned details of a water and sewer system that aims to improve economic prospects along Interstate 85. The water and sewer system would be placed in two separate communities — around Long Ferry Road in Dukeville and Interstate 85 between China Grove and Bostian Heights.

County leaders started their efforts before water quality questions came to light in Dukeville, which surrounds Buck Steam Station and will likely be the first to see water lines. However, after the county’s efforts started, a state law dictated that Duke Energy would need to provide permanent, safe sources of water to people who live within a pre-determined distance of coal ash ponds.

On Friday — the second day of commissioners’ planning retreat — County Manager Aaron Church publicly presented the latest financial and logistical details of a plan to extend Salisbury-Rowan Utilities’ water lines into Dukeville.

During his presentation, Church told county commissioners that Duke Energy has agreed to reimburse all engineering and construction costs associated with the Dukeville water lines if 75 percent of eligible residents hook on. Under state law, Duke Energy can also provide a water filtration system for eligible houses, but residents get to pick.

Church wasn’t able to provide firm dates for when construction might wrap up, but state law sets an Oct., 15 2018 as the deadline for Duke to establish permanent, safe water supplies to houses near coal ash ponds.

“Our goal is to finish as quickly as possible,” said Duke Energy representative Randy Welch during Friday’s planning session.

There’s a caveat, however, to Duke’s promise to pay for a water line extension in the Dukeville area. The company has only committed to pay for a 6-inch water line in the area, according to Church. It may be enough to provide water to houses, which the company is required to do under state law. The 6-inch line won’t be enough for manufacturing facilities county officials hope to lure to nearby economic development sites, according to Church and engineers hired by the county.

Rowan County’s plans show a water line double the size of what Duke is willing to pay for extending from Interstate 85 to Dukeville Road. Smaller lines branch out from that main line.

“Duke needs to provide water, per the state statute, within a half-mile radius,” Church said. “Six inches meets that statutory requirement.”

The exact cost differential is unclear. Church projects the cost of a water line to be as high as $8 million. In plans submitted to the state, Duke Energy projects costs at $4.97 million. The cost could vary based on the design of the system.

Welch, a district manager for government and community relations, was noncommittal when asked if Duke Energy would only pay enough to cover the 6 inch line and leave Rowan County to cover the rest.

“We will cover the cost to bring municipal water to houses,” Welch said.

In Church’s Friday presentation, he also told commissioners about how the water line might operate once built. He said customers’ bills would be “less than the average price for county water systems.” The average price, Church said, is $8.30 per 1,000 gallons.

Church also said it’s possible the county’s first water line would operate at a loss for an initial period of time.

During discussion about water and sewer lines on Friday, the only formal vote by commissioners was to allow Church to work with engineers to design how sewer lines might cross the interstate to reach an economic development site.

Friday’s retreat also involved discussion about county-owned water and sewer lines on the southern end of Rowan — near the Bostian Heights community and a planned Old Beatty Ford Road interchange with Interstate 85. On the south end, commissioners didn’t take formal action, but informally agreed to put minimal restrictions in place to guide future development.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

Comments

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting

Coronavirus

People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time