Water normally doesn’t flow from south to north much, but will do so in a big way from Mount Airy, N.C. to Carroll County through action taken recently.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to amend an earlier agreement with its northern neighbor, forged in 2012, which will allow the city to market more of its huge H2O surplus to Carroll — up to 6 million gallons monthly.
Under the existing water-purchase pact, the Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA), an agency that manages utility resources, buys 114,000 gallons per month from Mount Airy.
The possibility of purchasing more was proposed to Mount Airy officials last July due to plans by the PSA to expand public water resources in the Cana/Interstate 77-Exit 1 area of Carroll.
The motivation for this was a need for water in the Meadowbrook Road area of Cana, where the owners of 75 homes petitioned the Carroll County PSA for an extension of service. The PSA’s existing system in Cana serves 440 customers, mostly residences, and is supplied by wells.
Also, wells are used for an Exit 1 system that serves about 60 homes in addition to the Love’s truck stop located at that interchange. Carroll County officials have expressed a desire to be less dependent on that source since wells can lose capacity over time.
The amended agreement approved Jan. 5 by Mount Airy — with Carroll PSA representatives in attendance — recognizes that if the Cana system reaches its full potential, it could increase the total bought from Mount Airy to more than 3 million gallons monthly.
That exceeds the amount allowed for in the existing contract, with the altered pact elevating the maximum that may be purchased to 6 million per month.
In conjunction with its request to buy more water from Mount Airy, the Carroll County PSA requested a special governmental bulk purchase rate to allow it to afford to buy more water and pay the system’s operating expenses.
That was granted in the amended agreement approved Jan. 5 between the city and both the PSA and Carroll County government as a whole. It reduces the present charge of double the in-city rate to 85 percent of the highest in-city rate.
This is the same arrangement Mount Airy has with the town of Dobson, another outside user of city water.
Carroll officials take action to amend agreement
The terms of the amended water-purchase contract are good until January 2028, with renewals available to the Carroll County Public Service Authority for up to 40 years.
The Carroll County PSA also took action on the agreement during the Authority’s Jan. 8 meeting. Executive Director Jessica Montgomery thanked PSA member Keith Meredith for attending the Jan. 5 meeting with her in Mount Airy. She said the original agreement signed in 2012 set the rate at double the inside town rate – $4.74 per thousand gallons for the first 2,000 gallons, then $6.54 per gallon for the next million gallons, then $5.60 per gallon after that.
“The amended agreement is a much better rate for the PSA at 85 percent of the highest in-town rate, so that would be $2.78 up to 6 million gallons, so this is going to be a huge savings for us just over at Exit 1,” Montgomery said. “The original agreement also limited the amount of water the PSA could purchase to just under 10,000 gallons per day, and the amended agreement will increase the amount we can purchase from the City of Mount Airy to 200,000 gallons per day starting November 10 of this year. So it is a really good amended agreement.”
Meredith made a motion to approve the water agreement, contingent on the agreement also being approved by the Carroll County Board of Supervisors. Doug Winesett seconded the motion, which passed 4-0. New Fancy Gap PSA member Phillip McCraw (who replaced William Payne on the PSA after winning the vacated Fancy Gap Board of Supervisors’ seat when Phil McCraw did not run for reelection) abstained from the vote. The Board of Supervisors approved the motion also later that evening with McCraw again abstaining from the vote.
Montgomery said the next portion of the project would be to update the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Assessment (ER) and to send those to a funding agency for consideration.
“The PSA will need to consider whether to attempt to solicit user agreements along Brushy Fork and Flower Gap Road to meet the PSA’s 51 percent (customer participation threshold) or relax that requirement for a transmission line connecting the Cana system to the Exit 1 system, so that will be something to look for in the future on what you want to do,” Montgomery said. “PSA staff is working to compile operational data for each of the Cana system wells so that the needs can be prioritized for the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission grant funds. We have $100,000 to work on the wells to increase some of the water production there. So we will be testing each well to see what parameters we will need to meet.”
McCraw wanted to know if the PSA was still looking at upgrading the wells in Cana or if it was completely banking of the Mount Airy deal. Montomery said the PSA was going to use the $100,000 grant money to go back and look at the wells in Cana and see what can be done to improve the amount of water coming out of the wells. The grant funds would also be used to look at the electrical aspect of the system and the wells.
“And then it will be up to the board to decide how to continue on with the request for the people at Meadowbrook,” Montgomery said.
PSA Chairman Dr. Tom Littrell called the Mount Airy agreement “a feather in our caps” if Carroll can somehow utilize the extra water in the Cana area. Authority member Jeanette Dalton said she was pleased with the Mount Airy agreement.
“I thank staff and Keith for working so hard to get this, and (former Fancy Gap PSA member) William (Payne) of course,” Dalton said. “I am just pleased we accomplished what we tried so hard to get.”
Winesett said the folks in Cana really need this water. He said Mount Airy made Carroll County a great deal, and one that will benefit both localities. McCraw was not completely sold on the agreement, however.
”I would like to see us open up a couple of wells on (U.S.) 52. We have 440 customers on five wells, that is 80 per well, and there is some property there on 52 that would probably be available for the well exploration,” McCraw said. “And If it comes Brushy Fork or Flower Gap (roads), it will put a bunch of us on it and on that nonuser fee. And I have opposed that from day one, still do. We have several on there that would have signed up for the first Cana project if we didn’t want to use our wells, and I would get hit with two nonuser fees so I am not very pleased with that.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.