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Regional water plant site chosen

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — A site has been landed for a new regional water plant on the New River, but Virginia/Carolina Water Authority members haven't let many details flow.

Independence Town Manager Kenneth Vaught told The Gazette in an e-mail last week that “the authority passed a resolution to acquire property and a conservation easement.”

Vaught continued to say the attorneys would be finalizing documents by the authority's regular meeting tomorrow, Thursday, at 10 a.m. at the Grayson National Bank Conference Center in Independence and more information should be available then.

Authority Chairman Bryan Edwards gave little information. “We did make significant progress toward an agreement with the landowner for a site for the water treatment plant and intake.”

He continued to say that it was “premature” to release all the details, as the legal documents had not been filed. “We will be making a public announcement and provide a press release at [the meeting Thursday].”

(In a joint effort, both The Gazette and The Alleghany (N.C.) News attempted to obtain copies of a public document — the resolution passed at the authority's Dec. 30, 2008 meeting — but officials did not provide it to either newspaper by press time on Monday. It was sent to The Gazette on Tuesday, and supports the following information obtained by a Gazette reporter from court records.)

Officials have been in negotiations for the land since October 2008.

While authority members have yet to officially disclose the location, paperwork filed by Independence Town Attorney Roger Brooks in Grayson Circuit Court on Dec. 30 may be an indication.

The authority filed an easement agreement with Robert R. Stafford regarding land in High Meadows at New River subdivision off Moxley Ridge Road in Grayson County.

The agreement's plat map shows the authority requested an easement from a 1.488-acre site along the river, through a common area in the subdivision and connecting along Moxley Ridge Road.

In the documents, it appears the plan is to place the plant's filtration system along the river next to that 1.488-acre site and run the lines up to the water plant, which is expected to be placed in a lot inside the subdivision.

Although no official documents have been filed with the court system declaring the purchase of the land, a plat map showing the subdivision listed the Virginia/Carolina Water Authority as a possible owner of the 1.488-acre site.

Further details are expected at Thursday's meeting.

Last month, the regional authority approved three contracts regarding the $8 million project that will eventually pump water into the new prison being built outside of Independence.

A low bid of $1.27 million was awarded to DLB Inc. of Hillsville to install a 10-inch water line along U.S. 21 to Independence and $882,634 to install the line to Sparta, N.C.

Grayson Administrator Bill Ring — an authority member — noted that, because bids came in much lower than anticipated, the authority was able to purchase the 10-inch water lines for below the original estimate for an 8-inch line.

The 10-inch line will enhance the flow capacity of the water and give the line an longer life-expectancy.

A bid was also awarded for the booster pumping station. Boogs Municipal Services of Wise submitted the low bid of $179,750.

With the bids approved, dirt could begin moving as early as this month.

The new water system is expected to begin construction this April and finish July 15, 2010 — the same date the Virginia Department of Corrections has said its new prison in Grayson will go online.

The town is also busy working on upgrades to its wastewater plant.

The current plant's capacity is 250,000 gallons per day and the prison is expected to use between 120,000 and 150,000 gallons per day.

The expansion will increase the capacity to 495,000 gallons per day. The cost will be paid by the DOC.

Independence has secured a $2.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency to pay for the upgrades, but the DOC will pay that back through sewage rates paid to the town.

Construction on the wastewater plant is slated to begin in March and finish by early 2010.

An agreement has been sent to the DOC regarding the proposed utility rates, but has not been finalized yet.