Tuesday, April 16, 2024

LGC signs off on $11M loan for Pender’s new water tank, wells

Pender County Fire and EMS Director Everette Baysden, Pender County Utilities Director Kenny Keel, Pender County Commissioner Jerry Groves, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners Jackie Newton, Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority Chairman Norwood Blanchard, Pender County Commissioner Wendi Fletcher-Hardee, and Pender County Manager David Andrews at the groundbreaking of a water infrastructure project in Scotts Hill. (Courtesy Pender County)

PENDER COUNTY — Tuesday, the state rubber-stamped Pender County’s $11.2 million loan to be used to increase its water capacity.

READ MORE: No viable land: The wait continues for Pender County to offer adequate water supply to east residents

ALSO: Pender begins construction of expanded Scotts Hill infrastructure | Port City Daily

The county, specifically in the eastern part, has been facing rapid development, in turn nearing capacity with its current water system. Southeastern Pender is under a water shortage plan, which Pender County Utilities director Kenny Keel expects to last at least through September. He said it may continue through the first of the year when an initial new well is anticipated to become operational.

The Local Government Commission voted to approve the use of a state revolving fund loan to finance the needed project in the Scotts Hill Water and Sewer District.

The improvements will include a 300,000-gallon water storage facility, 13,800 linear feet of 8-inch transmission lines, and three groundwater production water wells to provide additional capacity in emergency situations.

The tank and one well will be adjacent to the Pender EMS and Fire Station 18, according to Keel. The other two wells will be built next to South Topsail Elementary School on Hoover Road and the existing Hampstead water tank on U.S. 17 near Topsail High.

Currently the eastern portion of the county receives all its water supply from the Pender County Water Treatment Plant via a booster pump and a single 12-inch transmission main that extends 19 miles. The capacity of the line is inadequate, according to LGC documents, for existing peak demands.

Pender County received two construction bids in June 2022, with the lowest bid coming in at $13.2 million. The project broke ground in February and is anticipated to be complete by spring 2024.

The county will has stated its current water rates for customers are sufficient to cover the increase in debt service payments to pay off the 20-year loan.

The county is also planning to build a reverse osmosis plant. The county has already been awarded more than $75.8 million over the course of four funding cycles with the North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure. Of the loans, $5 million was awarded as a grant, meaning the county does not have to pay back that portion.

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