Craven commissioners approve $8.7 million for hurricane-damaged water system

Craven County Commissioners approved nearly $9 million in funding to repair damage to the county’s water system dating back to Hurricane Florence in 2018.

According to Deputy County Executive Gene Hodges, Hurricane Florence caused severe damage to the water telemetry system that serves the western portion of Craven County. The system is the communication conduit that shares information between wells, water towers, and the county water plant and keeps the water system running smoothly.

Hodges said that since the hurricane, the telemetry system has experienced a number of failures, with each site requiring daily in-person inspections and manual adjustments to maintain proper operation.

Craven County has selected McKim & Creed of Raleigh as the engineering company for the repair project, which will be divided into three phases.

Phase 1 will consist of approximately 23 miles of additional fiber optic cable to extend Craven County’s fiber optic network to the western portion of the county and water assets on Highway 101. Phase 1 work will include upgrades electrical and telemetric leveling of 17 water sites which will enable them to communicate with the water treatment plant near Lewis Farm Road.

Phase 2 will consist of the installation of new fiber from approximately the north end of the Slocum Creek Bridge in Havelock to an area adjacent to the Roger Bell New Tech Academy.

Phase 3 will consist of the installation of new fiber from approximately Grantham Road to Havelock West End Fire Station.

At their August 1 meeting, the commissioners approved a total project budget of $8,769,261.

According to Chief Financial Officer Craig Warren, $7.2 million will come from US bailout funding while the rest will be paid from the county’s water fund balance.

The Phase 1 construction contract, which includes fiber construction as well as the new electrical and telemetry upgrade, has been awarded to Turner Murphy Company, Inc for $5,164,144.

Warren said the Phase 1 project is expected to take about a year.

The repair project is expected to solve the problem residents of Cove City and other parts of western Craven County have been having with low water pressure, according to County Executive Jack Veit.

“When Hurricane Florence hit, we lost our old cable line that went to all the water sites,” Veit said. “It can’t be fixed because we don’t own the line, it belongs to the phone company. It will put 26.2 miles of fiber across the county and connects all the assets we have, so now at the plant of water, they can see how it all works together, and that’s what we don’t have now.

Craven County water system still recovering from Hurricane Florence

The telemetry project is just the latest in the county’s efforts to repair damage caused by Hurricane Florence to the local water system.

In May, the county approved funds for a $1.8 million project to repair the Lawson Creek pumping station, another victim of the storm. The Pumphouse is an underground vault containing pumps, pipes, valves and electrical controls that connect under the River Trent the two water systems operated by Craven County.

The county also approved funds to replace the Lawson Creek Pump Station, which connects the two water systems operated by Craven County.

The system is essential to the county’s plan to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from the Black Creek Aquifer in accordance with North Carolina state regulations.

After:Critical link in the Craven water supply chain to be replaced

Hodges said the new pumphouse building will be raised five feet off the ground, nearly two feet above the high water mark, and will be about 15 feet tall.

The Lawson Creek Pump Station serves as a redundancy or backup pump for systems that supply water to northern and southern Craven County. If any of those systems failed without the Lawson Creek pump in place, the county would have no way to send water to those areas, Hodges said.

Construction costs for the project are $966,693 with a contingency fund of $97,000. Additional costs consist of architect and engineering fees.

Veit said studies have indicated that moving the pump station away from waterfront property at Lawson Creek would not be feasible due to hydraulic and financial issues.

“There were studies done by water engineers to see if we could achieve the same pressure and function of this component of the system away from water, and it was determined that this was the most profitable to increase it,” Veit said.

Journalist Todd Wetherington can be reached by email at [email protected] Please consider supporting local journalism by signing up for a digital subscription.

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