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Water expansion project continues to move forward

JACKSON – Northampton’s Public Works department has already received several applications to signup for the Phase Six water expansion project but they still need more, according to Public Works Director Kirk Rogers.

He gave the Northampton Board of Commissioners an update at their latest meeting held here on June 1. The Phase Six expansion project has been in the works for well over a year while reports were completed and grants were requested.

“The system expansion will cover almost 200 homes,” Rogers explained, noting that the minimum amount needed was 145 homes.

As of June 1, they’d received 72 signup applications for the utility user agreement. Citizens in the area covered by Phase Six who want to sign up have to pay a $75 tap fee, though Rogers noted they didn’t have to pay the money right away as long as they at least signed up.

The deadline for signups was originally May 15 but was extended to August 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly slowing things down. Rogers said letters would be sent out to people who have not yet signed up.

In addition to the progress with the signups, Rogers reported that the Environmental Report and the preliminary Engineering Report for the project had been completed and submitted to the USDA.

The environmental report, he added, also contained information from a study on the well water of citizens who live in the proposed expansion area. It was conducted by UNC professors and coordinated by the Northampton County Citizens Against Coal Ash group. The results showed high levels of lead in the water as well as secondary levels of copper, manganese, iron, cobalt, and chromium 6.

Rogers said he hoped that information would mean additional grant money from USDA for the project.

After the presentation, Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe asked if she could reach out to people in her district who had not yet signed up, and Rogers said he’d get her a list.

“I’m not pleased with people being notified,” said Board Chair Charles Tyner about the lack of letters so far. “The problem is people have not been informed.”

Tyner noted that he lives on one of the roads slated for the expansion project and he had not yet received any letter. He predicted that signups would double once that information is sent out.

“Water is important,” the chairman concluded.