Problems discovered with joint water interconnect

Published 7:57pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

The towns decided a few years ago to connect their water sources in order to provide backup for one another after a severe drought forced the towns to enact mandatory water restrictions for customers.

The line means that ultimately water can be shared from Asheville and Hendersonville to Polk County, since Saluda obtains its water from Hendersonville. Polk County also just completed connecting its Mill Spring well system to Columbus, so the towns and county would all be able to share water if necessary.

The Howard Gap line between Tryon and Saluda was made possible through a $1.73 million grant that the towns shared from the N.C. Rural Center and a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Each town is also sharing the financing of $1.43 million obtained from the North Carolina Drinking Water Fund, which is a no-interest loan.

The project included the construction of the water line from Tryon to Saluda, the construction of the water storage tank and the installation of a valve and booster pump to connect Columbus to the Tryon and Saluda systems.

Saluda Commissioners decided on Tuesday the first thing it needs to do is find out from Hendersonville how much water it can draw from their system.

Hollifield is looking into grants for the upgrade project, namely from the N.C. Rural Center, since it helped fund the original interconnect project.

Williams said Columbus and Tryon officials are aware of the problem. The issue has not yet been discussed publicly in Tryon or Columbus. It has also not yet been discussed who will pay for any necessary matches if grants can be obtained.

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