09/07/08 — Increased water rate helps Mount Olive repair leaks

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Increased water rate helps Mount Olive repair leaks

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 7, 2008 11:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Finding and repairing the source of a water leak under the 900 block of North Breazeale Avenue wasn't so much as expensive as it was time consuming and frustrating, Town Manager Charles Brown said.

And dangerous, he added.

Even with orange traffic cones, police cars, town trucks and town work crews, many motorists on that busy five-lane road zoomed by without slowing, Brown said.

For Brown, the repair, along with an earlier repair of a sewer line on North Church Street, should reinforce the public's understanding of the need for the new usage-based water rates that have resulted in higher water bills.

Revenues from those bills have allowed the town to add budget line items for repairs and maintenance of its water and sewer systems.

"It gives us the resources to go do that," Brown said. "We had to spend $49,000 to repair a sewer line on Church Street and repave the street after the work was done. That was half of the line item we had budgeted for sewer repair for the whole year.

"But on the other hand last year we would not have had that line item. We'd have to have pulled that money from someplace else. The same thing is true of the water."

Town personnel were used to repair the water leak.

"We probably had $2,000-$3,000 in time and equipment in the process," Brown said.

The line, that had been leaking for several weeks, was found last Friday, but repair work did not get under way until Tuesday.

"We did not want to dig the street up and leave it over the Labor Day weekend," Brown said.

Brown said the source of the leak was a plastic line that snaked down Breazeale Avenue rather than going straight across. Once it was found, town crews hooked onto it and pulled it and a new line at the same time.

Brown said that over time vibrations probably caused the leaking line to crack.

As for the water bills, it is the second billing cycle since the new rates went into effect. Brown said he had heard few comments about the bills.

"I think the article written (in the News-Argus) about that let people understand that the (town) board was kind of being unfairly targeted for that (rates)," Brown said. "The board didn't really have much of an option.

"When you have a loan to pay back to a government funding agency they are going to come in and determine how much you are going to pay that debt service and how much it takes to operate the service, water and sewer. They are pretty much going to dictate what your rates have to be to meet that obligation."

Brown said he thinks most people have "pretty much adjusted" to the new rates.

"They are not happy about it," he said. "I'm not either. Mine went up about $25 a month, but I understand it is necessary just like the folks at Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

"Their first concern was whether that would be enough of a increase to maintain the system. They depend heavily on the water supply from Mount Olive. A day or two without water could be a catastrophe for them. They want to be sure we have resources to keep it in good working order."

Brown said he had just received a new list of statewide water rates from the League of Municipalities.

"We still have the second-least expensive water rates in the state behind Wilkesboro," he said. "But I know that doesn't make anyone happy when their bill goes up."