Plans for the second phase of a groundwater supply project, through which permanent production wells will be constructed in Sampson, have been approved by the Board of Commissioners — it is the next step toward establishing a well system for water distribution that will help the county ween itself off outside water purchases.
During a recent meeting, Dewberry engineers presented plans and specifications for the well completion project to the county board, reporting that the plans had been submitted for N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval.
Dewberry engineer Mary Brice reported that well samples had produced good water quality and alignment tests also yielded positive results.
The well development project schedule has been somewhat revised after it was initially believed that it would be bid this past spring on the way to producing local water by the end of this year. Cannady noted that the schedule had been delayed somewhat as meeting were held with pump manufacturers to do due diligence on the equipment involved.
However, with the approval of the plans, the project has negotiated another hurdle.
The board adopted a resolution approving plans and specifications for the Sampson County Well Completion project Phase 2 as part of the consent agenda at its regular meeting last week. The local approval was necessary in order to move forward as required by USDA, which will give final approval.
Phase one consisted of test wells, whereas the second phase will encompass the installation of “approximately 12,000 linear feet of 12-inch water main, valves, fire hydrants and associated appurtenances” and the completion of up to three production wells, chemical feed buildings, electrical and mechanical work, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) and other associated construction.
The board previously completed a water supply study that has determined that the cost of developing and equipping wells to provide a groundwater supply for its water distribution system could be more cost effective than purchasing water from various municipal sources.
County officials subsequently applied for, and received, letters of conditions for loan and grant assistance from USDA-Rural Development to construct such wells.
USDA is funding the majority of the overall well project, which is around $2.6 million. That figure consists of an initial USDA loan of $1.3 million and a second loan of $500,000. Both have 40-year obligation loans with interest rates of 4.38 percent and 3.63 percent, respectively. There is also a grant component of $835,000.
Some of the cost of the project will be able to be offset by the savings in water purchases, which could be cut in half for the short term, Dewberry engineers and county public works director Lee Cannady have said.
At the end of last year, Dewberry engineers reported to the Board of Commissioners that three test wells were constructed and installed, with positive results. Permanent production wells for water consumption are scheduled to be constructed at N.C. 403, Old Warsaw Road and U.S. 421, near the Beaman water storage tank.
Cannady said the project was vital in order to decrease water retention periods, improve water quality and decrease bulk water purchases and reduce the county’s dependency on outside entities for the natural resource.
Cannady said the project is self-sufficient, especially as the years go on and the system can grow.
He has said it is expected the county will maintain working relationships with each of the five municipalities from which it purchases water currently — Dunn and Clinton are the largest — but that those purchases could decrease significantly if the permanent wells prove successful.
For years, the county has purchased its water from area municipalities, with the majority being supplied by the cities of Dunn and Clinton. Those purchases are not expected to halt altogether for the time being, but Sampson will be able to become far less dependent in the short-term through the project. Eventually, with the development of more wells, the county could wean itself off the support from Clinton and Dunn and move toward self-sufficiency.
“With this first round of wells we’re talking about putting in, we don’t want to cut anyone out,” Cannady has said. “We want to be diversified so we can purchase, sell back and produce it for ourselves.”
Cannady noted that Sampson shells out an average of just less than $2 per 1,000 gallons of water. Putting in those wells is expected to cut current purchases in half. Dunn makes up the bulk of those water purchases, at around $430,000 annually. The initial cost savings with the construction of the three wells has been estimated between $200,000 and $250,000 annually.
Following the designing, permitting and bidding, construction of the well heads and line work will take around six months.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.