By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A preliminary engineering report suggests that it will take $944,000 for immediate repairs to the Princeville water and sewer system and an additional $4.7 million to complete a second phase.
Gary Hartong, a representative of The Wooten Company, made the presentation Aug. 5 to the Edgecombe County Commissioners during the board's regularly scheduled meeting.
The purpose of the report was to evaluate Princeville's existing water and wastewater systems, develop cost estimates for repair, rehabilitation or replacement and prioritize improvements to utilize available state and federal funding programs.
Hartong told the board that the "system" was built in the 1970's and it has been operating with little or no maintenance. County Manager Lorenzo Carmon assured the commissioners that the 40-year-old system is not as bad as it may appear. Approximately 800 customers use the system.
"The system is operational," Carmon said. "Water is not shooting out of the ground and there is no sewage wasting. It's functional but it needs some improvements."
Funding for the first phase needs to be pursued within 60 days, which will allow the project to be completed in 18 to 24 months.
At the request of the Local Government Commission, Edgecombe County took over the operation of the Princeville water and sewer system last December. Princeville remains the owner of the system and is in charge of setting rates for services.
The request was made after the LGC took over Princeville's books five months prior due to its poor finances. During the takeover, an audit revealed the town's water and sewer fund balance was in the hole more than $298,000. It also revealed a poor collection rate which allowed $83,000 in past due accounts to accumulate.
Edgecombe agreed to manage the town's water and sewer system with the stipulation of administering a preliminary engineering report for the entire system with funding from a grant. The county is also banking on grants to help fund Phase 1 project. One of the grants, a $92,500 grant from the N.C. Rural Center to replace 25 fire hydrants in need of repair or replacement has been put on hold pending a state funding freeze on Rural Center projects.
Other grant funding the county will pursue for Phase 1 project are $129,000 to rehab or replace a manhole, $177,500 for collection line rehab or replacement, $380,000 for pump station rehab and $165,000 for engineering and owner administration.
Phase 2 is considered lower priority improvements. Hartong told the board that the county is eligible for grants for those projects as well. The projects includes, connecting to Edgecombe line, water line extension or repairs, new hydrants, manhole rehab or replacement, collection line rehab or replacement, pump station rehab and engineering and administration.
Edgecombe initiated its county-wide water system in 1998. Since then it has developed five districts plus managing Princeville's system. According to reports, in June the county collected $200,000 for 19.8 million gallons of water.