Northampton Commissioners adopt resolution for Viable Utility Program

Published 4:13 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

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JACKSON – The Northampton Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution that they hope will help them make improvements to the county’s water system.

The resolution was presented during their regular meeting on July 17.

Board Attorney Scott McKellar explained, “The county was approached by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality informing the county that it qualifies to be designated as a ‘distressed unit’ in the state’s Viable Utility Program.”

“In short,” he continued, “what that means is it will qualify the county for available grant funding.”

The Viable Utility Program, which is a part of NCDEQ, was created to help local governments work towards long-term solutions for water and/or wastewater units that are considered “distressed.”

Distressed units must conduct assessment and rate studies, participate in a training/educational program, and develop an action plan.

They will also be eligible for grant funding from the Viable Utility Reserve. Those grants can help address needs ranging from funding studies to rehabilitating existing water and/or wastewater infrastructure.

There are a number of ways a local government unit is identified as distressed. For Northampton County, they received an assessment score of 10, which exceeded the threshold of eight points to qualify.

According to NCDEQ, the benefits of the Viable Utility Program include help with water infrastructure planning, direction on how to address infrastructure costs, access to state funding grants, and more kinds of assistance.

The Northampton Commissioners considered the resolution which would accept the distressed designation. The text of the resolution states that the county will complete the requirements of the program.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner motioned to adopt the resolution, with a second from Kelvin Edwards. The vote passed unanimously without any discussion.