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February 7, 2013

County ahead on water, sewer expansions

ROCKY MOUNT — During the initial planning of Edgecombe County’s water districts, the commissioners knew that it would be a worthwhile project for the county as well as the citizens. Now that it is nearly completed, the county is working on providing county-wide sewer.

The county will apply for a $750,000 grant for a sewer project at the intersection of Logsboro Road and N.C. Highway 33. The county also has immediate plans for providing sewer service in Speed.

Edgecombe County Manager Lorenzo Carmon explained that citizens in some of those areas have problems with sewage running in wells. Other problems included citizens connecting to sewers lines that run in ditches.

The Logsboro area is in Water District 4, where the waterlines are scheduled to be completed next year. The construction of Water District 4 is scheduled to start Monday and be competed within 465 days, Carmon said.

The initial plan for county-wide water began as just a discussion between commissioners 40 years ago. Today the county provides clean and safe water to more than 5,000 customers, including Princeville — a system that the county manages.

“We want to make sure that everybody in the county has good, safe and quality drinking water,” Carmon said. “Our water must be tested by the EPA and meet certain requirements. It is healthier for our citizens.

“You can see the difference in the oral hygiene of our children who drink well water and those who don’t. Municipal water has fluoride and helps make the teeth stronger.”

At least two county schools, Coker Wimberly and North Edgecombe, both in Leggett, also benefitted from the county-wide water system. Carmon said those schools had problems with malfunctioning systems. Hooking up to the county-wide water system eliminated that problem.

“We are ahead of the game right now,” Carmon said. “Martin County is just beginning to start on their county water system and Nash started theirs not too long ago. I’m satisfied where we are right now.”

The first water district (District 1) was completed 14 years ago. That area was strategically chosen because it was the most populated (1,439) area. Water meters in that district currently need to be replaced. The county applied for a $428,464 loan to replace the old manual read meters to state-of-the-art meters that are in-place in the other districts.

In December, the county billed its customers for more than 15.5 million gallons of water and collected $192,516. Although the collection is a lucrative offering, Carmon explained that the funds are put back in the water and sewer department to make it self sufficient. Tax dollars are not used to pay for water and sewer.

“We don’t look at water and sewer fund as revenue,” he said. “It goes back into the system to pay for the daily operation, repay loans it has incurred and for capital improvement of the system.”

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