Utilities board approves water, sewer for US 421 corridor, Flemington

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Members of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) Board on Wednesday approved a construction contract for two projects that will first connect Flemington-area residents to CFPUA’s central drinking water system, then provide the ability for the entire U.S. 421 corridor to connect to CFPUA’s central water and sewer systems.

The water line portion of the construction contract is based upon an agreement reached between CFPUA and Duke Energy in October of 2013, while the sewer project is based upon an agreement among CFPUA, New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington, according to Mike McGill, chief communications officer for CFPUA.

“It is important to note there is no current health risk to CFPUA’s customers currently served by Flemington’s drinking water wells,” McGill said. “Monitoring data continues to show the wells remain in compliance with federal and state drinking water regulations and the construction project will be completed long before any projected groundwater impacts.”

For the water project, Duke Energy is contributing $3.1 million to the project, with CFPUA allocating an additional $460,000 from existing water emergency repair and developer agreement project funds.

CFPUA’s master plan shows a larger water line serving the U.S. 421 corridor and opening the area to greater economic development. CFPUA determined the construction of sewer lines at the same time would be cost-effective and achieve master plan objectives. As a result, agreements were reached with New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington to construct two 8-inch sewer lines underneath the Cape Fear River.

“When this project began in 2013, CFPUA’s goal was to ensure that people who live and work in the Flemington area continue receiving high-quality drinking water. Our agreement with Duke Energy achieved that goal,” said Jim Flechtner, CFPUA Executive Director. “At the same time, we have been presented with an ideal opportunity to accelerate a portion of our wastewater master plan and aid New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington with their important economic objectives.”

CFPUA and New Hanover County will split the sewer project’s $1.2 million cost, while the City of Wilmington will provide the use of essential city land for construction and maintenance of the lines.

“Duke Energy is committed to protecting public health, while ensuring electricity remains reliable and affordable to power the region and state,” said Paul Newton, Duke Energy state president for North Carolina. “Eighteen months ago, we joined with CFPUA in recognizing the need to act proactively on behalf of the Flemington community. This is a great example of the power of collaboration; through our mutual commitment to doing what’s best for the community, our neighbors have a permanent source of clean water.”

While the projects are not tied to the findings of the 2014 Garner report on economic development, they support several of its recommendations that have gained widespread support from local leaders. The pipelines will transform a significant portion of northwestern New Hanover County, allowing it to attract and grow more high-quality economic activities, McGill said.

During its work to prioritize the report’s recommendations, city and county leaders placed further extension of water and sewer to the 421 corridor on its list of future priorities.

“These projects will give the residents of Flemington the comfort of knowing their drinking water will remain safe while creating important infrastructure,” said New Hanover County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr.

The water and sewer construction work, which involves drilling under the Cape Fear River, will begin immediately and take approximately 10 months to complete.

Editor’s note: This is a corrected version of a story that was published Thursday morning.