Contaminated water flowing into the homes of some Cumberland County residents could soon receive a clean bill of health thanks to action taken by the Cumberland County Commissioners.
At last week’s regular meeting, the commissioners pledged $47,000 to study the feasibility of bringing clean, public water from Robeson County to more than 100 homes in the Southport subdivision; residents of that community had complained of tainted, foul tasting drinking water.
    The $47,000 will be paid to Lumberton engineering firm Koonce, Noble and Associates to design a water transport system that would go out for bids. Early estimates for the system are in excess of $650,000, though the county hasn’t announced plans on how to pay for the system. If the homes that will receive the clean water are required to foot the bill, it would cost each household approximately $5,700.
    Public Utilities Director Tom Cooney says that if the cost is to be covered by the affected households, the more than approximately 100 homes making up the Southport subdivision could have help: Cooney said a number of people living on or near Chickenfoot Road have called his office to say they would be interested in a public water hookup.
    “There are some problems with water quality in that area and the folks are very much interested in it,” said Cooney.
    {mosimage}A subcommittee will be formed to make recommendations to the commissioners about the payment options for the extension of water service to the Southport subdivision.
    Cooney said Koonce, Noble and Associates evaluated five possible options for the Southport subdivision, including extending water from Bladen County or having Cumberland County install a well system and storage tank on its own and provide limited water service to that area; Cooney said these options were considered unfeasible because Bladen is not prepared at this time to provide the needed water, while the latter option was considered too expensive to implement — such an option would cost an estimated $855,000. There was also an option considered to extend service from PWC’s line from Chickenfoot Road; however, Cooney said that option was deemed unworkable because that location is two miles further from the Southport subdivision than Robeson County and would not include a large number of residences or properties on it to help offset the costs.
    Cooney said the Robeson County extension has the potential to serve 113 properties along the route.
    The contaminated water issue came to the attention of the commissioners last February, motivating the board to form a Safe Water Task Force.
    The commissioners and the Safe Water Task Force have since discussed the feasibility of a countywide water system. Counties surrounding Cumberland, including Hoke, Robeson, Bladen and Harnett, already have countywide water systems. It is expected that the county will request that Koonce, Noble and Associates look into the cost of such a system.
    “Ten months ago, we just found out about this, and tonight we’re addressing it,” said Commissioner Breeden Blackwell. “I think that’s remarkable for us to bring about that quick a turnaround. I ask the county’s residents to be patient with us because I know we’re all interested in eventually getting a countywide water system.”

Contact Tim Wilkins at tim@upandcomingweekly.com

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