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Water system construction scheduled to begin next year

October 09, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

With most of the project's grant money already awarded to Washington County, construction of a $2.5 million public water system that would service about 80 homes in the Pen Mar area is anticipated to begin next year, Director of Water Quality Greg Murray said Friday.

Murray said the county is finishing putting together its plans and specifications for the water system and intends to seek bids early next year from contractors interested in performing the work.

The water system includes placing a 30-foot-high groundwater storage tank in the woods about halfway up High Rock Road, Murray said. He said the tank probably wouldn't be noticeable to residents.

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While the water system has been both lauded and jeered by Pen Mar area residents, Murray said all those on the system will have safe, clean water.

Currently, the affected residents use wells or cisterns for water.

"The 80 customers are really going to reap the benefits," Murray said.

County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Friday the last time a survey was done in the area that about half of the residents supported the public system and about half did not.

Residents who have opposed the system have expressed concerns about paying public water rates, Murray said.

Those who support it, typically the cistern users, have said they want a better way to get their water.

Murray said one resident, because that person uses a cistern, pays more than $400 per quarter to have water trucked in.

A public water system would lower that customer's costs, he said.

"It's expensive to have to get trucks up the mountain," Murray said.

Most of the project will be funded by state and federal grants, including a $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Washington County plans to contribute less than $150,000 toward the new water system, Murray said.

Murray said the county expects to receive the final "several hundred thousands" of dollars in grant funding for the project in fiscal year 2006. Fiscal year 2006 begins on July 1, 2005.

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