Weddington residents oppose new water tower placement
by Ali Drake
Weddington residents may have a problem with their water pressure, but they don’t want a water tower looming behind their homes.
“We have a pressure problem, right now, in this area,” said Ed Goscicki, the Director of Union County Public Works at a Weddington town council meeting Wednesday, July 20.
The council met to discuss plans to build a new water tower. The initial proposal cited an elevated water tower that would contain 1.5 million gallons of water. This would increase water pressure in an area like Rose Hill, which is already having issues with their water pressure.
“The problem is not universal right now, the problem is that it’s getting worse,” Goscicki said.
Some residents see the water problems as an issue brought on by growth.
“It’s a symptom of the growth in Weddington and we’re experiencing growing pains,” said Judy Johnston, a town resident who attended the workshop meeting. The repeated critique of the current location is that by placing the water tower on the proposed site, at Providence Road just south of Rea Road, neighborhoods in that area will risk lowered property values.
“We’re right at that 10,000 [population] mark, and it’s a pivotal tilting point for infrastructure,” added Johnston.
Since 2009, there have been four proposed locations for the water tower in Weddington. Two were pursued by the Department of Public works long enough to work up estimates and preliminary contracts which cost the sewer and water company $20,000 on each occasion. The money went to hold the contracts and the land where they wanted to build while waiting on approval from the town council.
“It’s a legislative process,” said Anthony Fox, the town attorney. “You’ve got to weigh whether or not you can get support for your proposal.”
An alternate possibility discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was a ground storage facility. This tank would hold the same 1.5 million gallons but it would not have to be elevated to the require 807 feet above sea level. It would sit on the ground, and possibly be less noticeable. The problems with this option are the cost: the standard elevated tank will cost approximately $4.5 million to construct; the ground storage tank would run about $6.2 million.
“We forfeit anther $20,000 if the town council doesn’t approve the proposal,” Goscicki said. “We’re into this for easily $200,000.”
“No one wants to be in the shadow of the tank,” said Mayor Nancy Anderson. “The standard government issue water tower is what we’re being offered.” Anderson expressed concern over the possibility of the town being responsible for the estimated 1.6 million dollar difference if the Town Council approved the ground storage facility.
“It’s not even benefiting us,” said Richard Edgeworth, a resident of Providence Acres. “Its benefiting another part of Weddington.” Clive Burger, who also lives in Providence Acres agreed “I don’t want it in my back yard,” Edgeworth said. “My community backs up to that.”
In response to Council Member Werner Thomisser’s inquiry as to localized solutions, such as putting small pumps in the individual neighborhoods experiencing low water pressure, Goscicki explained, “those are band aid solutions,” saying a temporary fix would not suffice when he estimates that over 1000 customers are using county water, especially since county ordinances are “requiring that all new subdivisions are hooked up to county water,” said Mayor Anderson.
The cost of the water tower will not affect tax payers as it is paid for by a separate enterprise financial system.
“Revenue from water and sewer can only be used for water and sewer [development], “ said Gosciki. It is also unlikely that the cost of the tower would affect resident’s water bills because it will be factored into the overall water and sewer budget.
“The decision is in the county’s hands,” said Gosciki. A public hearing is scheduled for August 8 at the Weddington Town Hall. “We would appreciate if everybody came out whether you’re for or against it,” said Barbra Harrison, a Weddington resident.