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Water line project needs to get started

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — In terms of the timing of building connector lines to a regional water plant in Austinville, Carroll Public Service Authority officials already feel they are “behind the 8 ball.”

Chairman David Hutchins asked for an update on the process of the regional water project that’s being developed in conjunction with Wythe County and Wytheville, right at the start of the PSA’s May 12 meeting.

Engineer Kevin Heath said two sets of water lines are involved.

One is the connection between water systems on Virginia 620 to Virginia 100, and the other is the line between 620 and the plant itself, he said.

The 620-100 connector has been designed and has approval from the health department. County officials are awaiting word on a funding decision by the state, which they expect in June.

Plans have been approved for the connection to the plant, Heath reported. The authority will seek money from Rural Development for that.

Some details still have to be worked out with Wythe County because much of the connector line is in its jurisdiction, though it does cross into Carroll once for a short distance.

The two counties need to figure out who will serve those customers and how, Heath said. The line is projected to cost about $2 million.

Hutchins asked if Carroll representatives have talked with their counterparts from Wythe.

Wythe County appointed a committee to work on the matter, but one of the members was hurt in an accident after being hit by a car, PSA Director Ray Hill answered. His injuries will require surgery.

Wythe County may appoint a new member to the committee, he said.

Hutchins also wondered about a potential routing parallel to Interstate 77 near Poplar Camp that would require getting right of way from the highway department.

Heath said that would be “about one step beyond impossible.”

The authority could put it on private property, but the terrain there is rough, he said.

Hutchins asked for input from Assistant County Administrator Ronald Newman, who is chairman of the regional water board.

“What do you need from us, Mr. Chairman?” Hutchins asked.

“Our concern is that when the plant is up and operating approximately a year from now, that we are ready to accept water here in the county,” Newman answered.

A few easements need to be acquired before construction happens, Heath said. “And then the bigger issue, the paying for it.”

There is that question, Hutchins agreed.

“But, B, are we going to be ready when they turn the valve on, because we’re going to start paying for water, I think, from day one, or the availability of it,” he said. “What’s our lag time going to be?”

Heath estimated that construction of lines will take about nine months.

Construction needs to start soon, in order to allow for the winter months, Hutchins said.

Though the water plant was scheduled to start operating next May, PSA member Wes Hurst understands that construction is actually four months ahead of schedule.

“So if we’re looking at nine months, and that plant is going to open a year from now, and they’re four months ahead of schedule, then we’re behind the 8-ball already,” Hurst said. “We need to get on this project, and we need to get on it pretty daggone quick.”

Hutchins asked if easements can be obtained now.

Not if the line is going to be moved, County Attorney Jim Cornwell said.

The line really needs to be in a visible area, Hill said. It will be a 14-inch line, and any water breaks must be discovered quickly.

Engineers will determine if there’s a better route, Heath said.

Cornwell asked if authority members wanted to adopt a resolution to get easements to construct the water lines, according to plans approved by the health department.

Hurst offered that as a motion, and all six authority members voted yes.

The holdup is on Wythe County’s end, Hill said. He’ll try to see if Carroll officials can get things moving.