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Dukeville water line meets threshold to continue as planned

Clean water

A sign in the yard of a Dukeville home.
JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

DUKEVILLE — A water line extension near Buck Steam Station’s coal ash ponds will proceed as planned after 157 households in the area indicated their preference for the proposal, according to Duke Energy.

The company says 157 of 191 eligible households in the Dukeville area have selected a water line as the preferred, permanent solution to concerns about water quality stemming from the nearby coal ash ponds. Other options included a water treatment system, which three households selected, and opting out of any permanent water solution, which four households selected.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin Culbert said the numbers mean Dukeville has met a 142-household threshold to make a water line cost-effective. State law requires Duke to provide a permanent safe-water source by 2018. The company previously said the solution might be a water treatment system if a water line proved too costly.

“The Dukeville community has expressed interest in water lines for some time, and that’s reflected in their strong response rate — the highest return rate for selection cards in the state so far,” Culbert said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to bringing this issue to a close for those neighbors and to partnering with the county on the new economic development site that will promote long-term vitality.”

She said the average response rate is 72 percent for the 13 communities where a permanent water solution is required by law. In Dukeville, 86 percent of households returned selection cards.

She said Duke Energy cannot connect houses to a water line or install a filtration system without a returned selection card. Eligible households and owners of other buildings in the half-mile radius still have a limited time to return a selection card.

As required by state law, Duke Energy will foot the bill for a water line to serve residential customers in a predefined radius. Rowan County government leaders want a water line that is 12 inches in diameter at its largest point, bigger than the 6-inch line that Duke Energy has said would fulfill state requirements.

Although an agreement between Duke and the county is not final, County Manager Aaron Church says he expects the county to pay for any upgrades to the water line, which would involve more than 5 miles of water mains and more than 4 miles of service lines.

Once installed, the lines and filtration systems are expected to resolve concerns about well-water quality in the area. Shortly after tests by the state Department of Environmental Quality showed most well water in Dukeville was unsafe to drink, residents stopped using their wells. Later, the state reversed the determination that the water was unsafe, but most residents continued to avoid using private wells.

Duke Energy has repeatedly said the substances found in the water that resulted in the “do not drink” letters are naturally occurring substances. The company says its coal ash basins are not at fault for unsafe water. But Duke has provided bottled water to Dukeville residents for a number of months. Those water deliveries will stop for households who opt out of any permanent water solution, Culbert said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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