Commission weighs water tower versus tank
If you help one town, you should help them all. That’s the message Weddington residents sent to county commissioners during a Tuesday, Sept. 6 meeting, requesting the county switch from a proposed water tower to a water tank in their town.
“We understand there is a need for an increase in static water pressure for the north end of the town,” Weddington resident Craig Hurt said. “(But) it’s just not fair, what the county does for one town, they should do for all towns.”
Hurt pointed out that in 2008, when Waxhaw residents complained about the sewer treatment plant next to the Cureton subdivision, Union County paid more than $4 million to cap the plant and eliminate the smell.
Multiple Weddington residents said they weren’t asking for a new location for the tower, but they did want a ground storage tank, so that it couldn’t be seen from the road or their homes.
“This has already sent buyers away,” Weddington resident Jennifer Romain said, complaining of empty homes in the area subdivisions.
The water tower is scheduled to be built at 247 Providence Road South, part of a 9 acre lot the county paid $793,803 for. Once the Weddington town council voted to approve the county plan, the contract to buy the property was triggered. Earlier in the year, the county had put down a $20,000 deposit, in return for an option to purchase the land. However at the current moment, the county doesn’t officially own the property, as negotiations continue between county attorney Ligon Bundy and Weddington attorney Anthony Foxx.
“We’re probably a month away from working through the issues on the park,” Bundy said. “I’m currently negotiating with Weddington’s attorney regarding the details. Weddington included a condition that land be set aside for a park.”
Union County Public Works Director Ed Goscicki estimated it would be six months in a best case scenario before he came to commissioners with a request to start construction on a tower. Staff members had not done any design work or projections for a water tank, Goscicki said, meaning it could stretch out longer if the county went with the tank option.
“We haven’t gone through the process,” Goscicki said. “This option has not been designed.”
A ground level tank would cost more, Goscicki cautioned commissioners, driving the price of the project up to $6.18 million, $1.5 million more than what a water tower would cost. The reason being that the tower’s height helps direct and guide water flow. Ground level tanks would require a pump station.
“I’d be doing the same thing if I was out there,” County Commissioner Todd Johnson said, speaking about the Weddington residents opposed to the plan.
Fellow commissioner Jonathan Thomas said he also understood, but if the county were to change the plans, the town would need to contribute some dollars to offset the difference.
“I certainly understand where you’re coming from,” Thomas told the Weddington residents. “(But) if this is going to serve a local area, then the cost needs to be shared.”
Public Works officials expect the 1.5 million gallon tank to improve static pressure and fire flow in the western portion of Union County during peak demand.
Only 18 percent of the Weddington’s 73 subdivisions have fire hydrants. Additionally, 80 percent of homes use wells instead of county water. Of the town’s subdivisions, 60 of the 73 use only well water. However in the northern part of the town, water pressure during the low demand portions of the day barely meets the minimum requirements for fire departments to use hydrants. At peak demand times, there’s no guarantee the hydrants would have enough pressure to pump out the water.
Commissioners asked county staff to work with Anthony Foxx to determine if there were any legal implications associated with changing the current project from a water tower to a water tank. The reason being that the Weddington town council approved plans for a water tower in their conditional use hearing. Commissioners wanted to make sure that wouldn’t require them to go through the entire process all over again. Staff members were also asked to gauge interest from the town of Weddington on helping with the cost of changing the project. The Weddington Town Council meets Monday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m at town hall.