LELAND — Leland’s water tower in Brunswick Forest has had water pressure issues since it first came online in spring 2017. Now, the cost to fix the issues has come in $135,199 more than what the town anticipated spending.
The 750,000-gallon tower was intentionally “over-built,” according to Leland’s town manager David Hollis.
It was installed to help water pressure issues in the region, first created by Brunswick Forest’s new demand in the late 2000s. But the current infrastructure surrounding the area can’t create enough pressure needed to fill the tower and could factor into occasional water pressure issues in the subdivision.
Need for the tower
Water in Brunswick Forest was formerly served by Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO. At one point, H2GO raised water hookup fees in the subdivision because of its distance from the greater water system and asked Brunswick Forest to pay for a new tower.
By late 2009, H2GO agreed to transfer its water infrastructure in the area over to Leland, upon the request of Brunswick Forest’s developer, Funston Land and Timber, LLC. Thus, Brunswick Forest’s residents became Leland’s first water customers.
Leland ultimately had to foot the bill for the water tower’s $2.6 million construction, designed by SEPI Engineering. It began construction in December 2015 and was operating by March 2017. The water tower has sat half-full, or, in fluctuating capacities, since it first came online. Hollis said in November 2017 the tower kept around 450,000 gallons — about 60 percent of its capacity. Daily demand at the water tower is 260,000 gallons, he said.
It’s worth noting that boosting the county’s water pressure — at one point an alternative to installing a pump just for the Brunswick Forest tower — has since been ruled out.
When Brunswick County fills its water tower in the industrial park, Brunswick Forest’s tower, roughly eight miles away, is filled too. Upgrading the county’s water pressure in its supply lines to 80 pounds per square inch (psi) was at one point considered as a fix.
But the county previously shared concerns with Leland about increasing the pressure in its own supply lines, according to the town’s project background. The age and material of the county’s line could have had difficulty handling regular pressure at 80 psi, the project background states.
SEPI Engineering’s original plans included a booster pump. But upon information received from Brunswick County’s staff, Leland opted to remove the booster pump from the tower’s finalized design.
Jimmy Strickland, Leland’s former public services director, confirmed in July 2017 that adding a new booster pump — what the town is now doing — would cost more than if SEPI Engineering’s initial plans that included the pump had been followed.
To address pressure issues, Leland paid SEPI Engineering $38,810 in July 2017 to engineer a new booster pump. SEPI estimated the new pump would cost $250,000.
Leland received six bids to construct the pump; in November 2018, the town got the lowest bid from Wells Brothers Construction, a Sampson-County based company. The Wells Brothers bid was $385,199, around $135,000 over the cost Leland had anticipated.
Next week, Leland Town Council will vote to award Wells Brothers the contract to solve its water pressure issues at the water tower.
Council will vote to award the contract on Jan. 17 at its regular council meeting.
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