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Construction begins on new water lines near Buck Steam Station

Construction of new water lines for Dukeville residents began in early February along Stoner Morgan Road.

The new infrastructure comes nearly four years after testing in 2014 found toxic levels of heavy metals in drinking well water around Buck Steam Station, a retired coal-fired power plant. Officials spent the next months banning drinking from these wells, only to later rescind and then reinstate the advisory.

But many residents in the area have existed on bottled water for drinking and food preparation since. Some passed 1,000 days on bottled water in mid-January of this year.

State-mandated help has been equally slow in progression. In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed “The Drinking Water Protection / Coal Ash Cleanup Act,” requiring Duke Energy to pay to extend public drinking water lines to homeowners near coal ash ponds.

As Rowan County already had plans to extend water lines near coal ash neighbors, Duke Energy agreed to pay roughly 90 percent of the project costs.

The county is working with contractor Hickory Sands, with a total project cost of $2.45 million.

The new lines will run in Rowan County along Long Ferry, Leonard, Dukeville roads as well as Stoner Morgan. They will serve about 150 homes – nearly all in the affected area.

Homeowners had the option of either a filtration system or water line at Duke Energy’s expense. Duke Energy also offered those affected $5,000 in “goodwill payments” to ease this transition.

Rowan County manager Aaron Church said that crews are working to install 6- to 12-inch water lines. All work is being done in the public right of way.

Church said that letters were sent to property owners in late December. Easements were offered to those whose properties would be affected.

“Rowan County anticipates minimal disruption to traffic and/or direct access to driveways, but we trust that everyone who is impacted will be patient throughout the project,” said Church in the letter.

Twelve-inch lines will serve Buck Steam Station, which will be outfitted with recycling centers for existing coal ash on site.

These recycling centers will process the ash, removing excess carbon and making it suitable for use in concrete.

For questions about the project, call project engineer Doug Chapman of McGill Associates at 828-328-2024.

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