01/18/07 — Utilities plan gets another close look

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Utilities plan gets another close look

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 18, 2007 1:56 PM

County, municipal and utility officials have begun discussing the logistics for a Wayne County Master Utilities Plan that could take as long as a year and a half to implement.

Wayne County officials, along with employees of the county's municipalities, Wayne Water Districts and individual sanitary districts, have discussed the feasibility of creating a county-wide utilities master plan over the past two months.

County Manager Lee Smith said a countywide utilities master plan would not run sewer lines to every household in Wayne, but that would evaluate the status of the county's existing individual infrastructure systems and determine ways to interconnect those systems, including water and wastewater treatment and distribution.

Much of the work expected to be completed in the next year involves developing individual long-range utility plans. The information gathered will then be shared among the entities.

Wayne Water Districts has been working on a long-range plan detailing its water needs and how to serve those needs for the past two years, said Tyndall Lewis, an engineer with McDavid Associates.

When it is completed this summer, that plan will provide the county's utilities committee with information regarding the next 20 to 30 years of water infrastructure planning, water supplies, future demand and needed improvements to the system.

That report is expected to coincide with a comprehensive land use plan being completed by Wayne's planning department. Residents and planners have worked for the past year on the land use plan, which is expected to be finished this spring.

The plan will include expected growth trends throughout the county and how to serve those areas with utilities, Smith said.

"We couldn't afford to run sewer to every household in the county. The people wouldn't be able to afford the rates. But we will have some residential and industrial pockets we can accommodate," he said.

If the county uses the comprehensive land use plan to forecast where to recruit industries, Wayne officials and engineers can plan for sewer lines in those areas, Smith said. But the county will also have to make sure that a new industry doesn't put too much pressure on the capacity of an existing sewer system.

Other municipalities are also planning for the future of water and sewer. In Goldsboro, where city officials originally suggested the idea of a countywide utilities master plan, public utilities director Karen Brashear said she believes the city can complete its own plan by the summer of 2008.

In Mount Olive, Mayor Ruff Huggins said the town should be finished constructing its wastewater treatment plant in 18 months. With a new water system in the works and Wal-Mart's opening this year, Smith said he believes growth "will change the face of Mount Olive."

But for some smaller communities, the questions and costs the plan could bring are a concern.

For a municipality like Fremont, Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said it will be a task to convince residents that such a plan is needed.

"We've been seeing a reduction in residency and there hasn't been much growth," McDuffie said. "It's hard to plan for growth when you have no growth happening."

Plus, none of the entities involved know the cost of implementing a master plan or the projects it will foster, McDuffie added.

The county utilities committee will discuss progress and planning at its next meeting on April 18.