Regional water project flowing

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Work continues to progress on a new regional water system that will serve the towns of Independence and Sparta, N.C.

Bobby Lane, of Lane Engineering, updated Independence town council during its regular meeting July 14 on the project, noting that it was about 50 percent complete.

Lane said the Virginia/North Carolina Regional Water Authority hopes to advertise for the water plant and intake within the next month, and that the water lines between Sparta and Independence are currently under construction.

The next segment to be advertised for bid will be another 4,500 feet of water line.

Of the 4,500, Lane said 2,000 feet would be an 8-inch water line extended from the town's current system to serve the new state prison under construction just outside the town limits.

Independence leaders will look for the Virginia Department of Corrections to compensate the town for the construction costs, as well as 2,500 feet of water lines in the current system that need to be replaced.

Lane said without upgrades, the lines would not provide a reliable service to the prison.

“There are some 3- and 4-inch lines in the town,” Lane said.

Council expects to have the bids ready in time for the August meeting.

When asked how things were going, Lane was optimistic. He said everyone now knows what they need to do — it's simply a matter of getting it done and making sure the system is “top-notch” and ready to serve Independence, Sparta and the prison.

Council Member Jason Cassell told Lane he'd heard that the intake testing didn't provide enough water flow to handle the system.

Lane said after initial tests, the water intake was only providing 585,000 gallons a minute, while the system needs to get 700,000 gallons a minute to meet the requirements.

“We will need to expand,” Lane said. “We do have room for that expansion... It won't be a problem getting that other 115,000 gallons a minute.”

Council Member Evelyn Hughes questioned if things were going to be completed on time.

“Yes ma'am,” Lane said. “We will meet our deadline... DOC will be served.”

Construction of the total project, including water lines, the intake, water plant and two storage tanks is scheduled for completion by summer 2010 — the same time the new state prison is set to be completed in Grayson.

Costs for the project are expected to be approximately $8.3 million, with funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, the United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Department of Health and the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission.