Water woes

Published 9:57 am Monday, November 9, 2015

WINDSOR – Help is on the way.

At their monthly meeting here Nov. 2, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase, installation and operation for an inline submersible booster pump aimed at temporarily raising the water level and boosting water pressure in the county water system which serves the town of Roxobel.

With the expansion and consolidation of some of the smaller municipal water systems, the county water system has faced challenges, according to administrators. Perhaps none have been bigger than in the Roxobel community.

Since late September/early October when the absorption of the town’s water system into the county’s water system began, the water pressure for Roxobel residents plunged to a near trickle. The cause has been due to the higher grading by some 35 feet of the water tower that serves Roxobel, versus the height of the other county water towers.

This discrepancy is believed to be what has produced instances of low water pressure, which in turn has Roxobel residents’ water flow down and their dander up; so much so that the residents’ began an angry phone campaign and it was aimed squarely at the ears of the Commissioners.

“About a month ago the Board had a lot of phone calls from the town of Roxobel and their (water) customers,” said County Manager Scott Sauer, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek. “They’ve only got 229 residents in Roxobel, and I’ll bet every one of them called at least one Commissioner when this all began.”

Since then, an analysis by the county’s engineering firm, Green Engineering of Wilson, and County Water System Manager Ricky Spivey arrived at what they hope will boost the pressure and bring some relief.

“(They) have come up with what they think will be a successful temporary solution on filling that tank,” continued Sauer.

The plan is to install the pump between two fire hydrants between the town’s old system and the county system according to the engineers. The county had the option to purchase the equipment or to rent it. The cost for a pump rental was estimated to cost the county $33,600, while one could be purchased for $25,100.

“We’re suggesting to you to purchase the equipment,” Sauer noted, “because we may have other applications in the future that could use this.”

Sauer also indicated that the town would have to help bear the cost of the project along with the county; and Roxobel mayor Gary Johnson said that after he meets with his Town Council that should not be a problem.

“He asked that we bring that to him later this week, but he has raised no objection and the paperwork has been prepared,” the County Manager indicated.

Sauer said if the project begins in a timely manner, it should be completed sometime in mid-December, if not earlier.

Spivey, who was also present before the Commissioners, said Green Engineering had used a similar solution when a similar problem arose in Harnett County.

Spivey said the line between the fire hydrants would be enclosed within an eight-inch pipe, and once it goes online, it would fill the water tank beyond half-capacity and would thus increase the PSI (pounds per square inch).

“I think (with everything in place) we could get that tank at least half-full by using that 5-horsepower submersible pump,” said Spivey. “It won’t be a permanent fix, but it should get the pressure up temporarily until we can get a permanent booster pump in place.”

Spivey says he will meet with Dominion Power officials on Thursday, which services the Roxobel area where the installation would take place, and that once the permit is issued and as quickly as a utility pole is in place, the pumping would begin.

“Probably in about 30 days,” Spivey estimated.

After questioning from the Commissioners and assurances that this was the best solution for all involved, Commissioner John Trent made a motion for the purchase of a booster pump, and to proceed with the installation and operational process aimed at restoring the water pressure to the Roxobel residents. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Tammy Lee and it passed unanimously.