Siler City board takes steps to begin multimillion-dollar water infrastructure improvement

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SILER CITY — Siler City could invest more than $50 million in its water infrastructure over the next 20 years for general repairs and expansion.

In its regular meeting Monday, the board of commissioners entertained a presentation from David Honeycutt of McGill Associates, an engineering consultancy in Raleigh, which the town contracted to evaluate its water infrastructure.

“Using field data, town input and engineering judgment,” Honeycutt said, “we’re prioritizing the water pressure issue.”

For years, some homeowners in Siler City have endured poor water pressure on their properties. In extreme cases, the issue has rendered even basic, day-to-day tasks — such as washing dishes and showering — difficult to accomplish. Particularly in the Homewood Acres neighborhood, town staff and contractors have identified acutely weak water pressure.

“We’d try to tackle Homewood first,” Honeycutt said, “and then move out into some other areas.”

Expanding the water treatment plant will likely be the town’s next highest priority. The facility can process 4 million gallons per day now, but will need to filter 6 million gallons per day as industry and real estate developments progress in coming years.

“You’re overall at about two and half mgd right now,” Honeycutt said of the town’s current usage, “but you have a million gallons per day allocated to the (Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site) site putting you at three and a half mgd.”

The project will require new raw intake pumps, filters, sedimentations basins, a chemical feed building and more.

“Expanding the plant is a high priority because it serves a majority of the town,” Honeycutt said, “and with the current permitted raw intake the town will not be able to serve the users.”

Fixing water pressure issues, expanding the water treatment facility and completing other improvement projects will cost the town an estimated $50.8 million over the next 20 years.

“That’s what it all breaks down into,” Honeycutt said, “which is obviously quite an aggressive overall number ... I know it’s going to take some funding sources outside of the town probably to make that happen.”

The board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution approving the water asset management plan from McGill, but the decision will not require adherence to the anticipated spending plan. Town staff are authorized to update the plan as needed.

Adopting a plan of action will, however, improve the town’s chances of securing grant money.

“It is not a hard commitment to the budgeting of these funds,” Honeycutt said. “... But the state wants to see a plan out there. They want to fund projects that are not just a knee-jerk reaction. They like pre-planning projects versus trying to do something after it’s already too late.”

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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