County candidates share plans for water system

Published 6:28 pm Monday, April 26, 2010

Beginning today, voters can learn a little more about the positions of the eight Polk County commissioner candidates in the May 4 primary.
The Bulletin recently presented questions to the four Republican candidates and the four Democratic candidates in the May 4 primary. Since there are three open seats on the board this year, voters will select three Republicans and three Democrats to continue to the general election in November.
The first question to candidates addresses plans for a countywide water system.
Due to objections from Henderson County, Polk County is facing delays in obtaining a Watershed III classification from the state to use Lake Adger for public water use. The county paid $1.6 million last year to obtain the lake for water use with a plan to eventually create an intake off the lake and develop a distribution system in phases.
Henderson County has raised concerns about how the protected area for a proposed intake near Lake Adger will affect land use in western Henderson County and about the possibility of Polk County selling to outside entities.
Polk officials have tried to assure Henderson County that it plans to use the lake as a local water source and land use restrictions are minimal.
In the meantime, the county has partnered with Broad River Water Authority and Inman Campobello Water District (ICWD) to connect those two systems with a main line through Polk County and bring public water to southeastern Polk County. By allowing the line, Polk obtained rights to extend distribution lines and obtain water from the main line.
The county extended a line north along Hwy. 9 and has been adding additional lines as it receives requests from property owners. County officials have said they hope to eventually connect existing distribution lines with new ones created from the Lake Adger source.
The candidates answers to the first question are presented below. Answers to additional questions will follow throughout the week.
Question: Do you support the countys plans for a countywide water system? If so, what specifically would you do during your term to continue work toward that goal?
Harry Denton
&bsp;As an acting commissioner, I voted to purchase Lake Adger as the water source for our county, and I continue to support that decision. I propose setting aside $100,000 per year from tax revenues to fund new water lines. We also need to actively search for available grants to help with water line extension. I would also like to open positive dialogue with the local governments Saluda, Tryon and Columbus whose input is vital to make water service throughout our area a reality.
David Moore
Yes. We must move forward with a countywide water system. This will ensure our citizens in the county that they will have a water source in our county. This will allow them to tap on when those lines are laid in their area (There will be a tap fee of course). A countywide water system should be owned by the county not an outside source who can charge whatever they want for their water.

Ted Owens
Yes! For the simple reason that “Water is Essential to Life.” We cannot live without it. The recent drought has taught us how important it is that we have a water supply. Great strides have been made by both the towns and county. I believe that we all can work together to complete what has begun that will ensure all citizens of our towns and county will have a sufficient supply.

Tom Pack
Yes, I support a county wide water system as I was a member of the board of commissioners that brought the water through the lower part of the county up to the intersection of Hwy. 9 and Landrum Road. The board of commissioners that I served on also secured a contract to purchase Lake Adger for a water source for all of Polk County. When elected for another term I would continue to push for the water line to be built from Hwy. 9 and Landrum Road to the intersection of Hwy. 9 and Hwy. 108 in Mill Spring. Once this is done the county can start the planning and funding for an intake on Lake Adger and the water line to run from Lake Adger back to Hwy. 9 and Hwy. 108.

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Ray Gasperson
I believe it is vital to the well being of our citizens that Polk County continue to expand and improve our public water system, not to promote growth, but rather to enhance public health and fire protection. I especially believe it is important to move forward, as soon as financially possible, with extending a 12 inch (minimum) water line north on Hwy. 9 to Polk Central School and then continue north along Hwy. 9 to the Mill Spring crossroads at the middle school. This would get these schools off ground water and give them reliable, safe public water.
The previous BOC was wise to begin the process that resulted in the current BOC completing the purchase of Lake Adger. The location of the lake and the high quality of its water will prove to be the most superior source of water for our county in future years. However, until a water treatment plant can be constructed at Lake Adger, the county must continue to co-ordinate with the Inman-Campobello Water system as we continue to expand the “backbone” of our system along main roadways and extensions to residential customers.
I am also committed toward working with our towns so there can be interconnections between Polk County, Columbus, Tryon and Saluda.
Margaret Johnson
I do support a countywide water system, but believe we must make sure it is administered fairly and that water lines are not used to encourage inappropriate development. That is why the Water Line Extension policy developed by the current board is so important. As a commissioner, I will use this policy and the Comprehensive Plan to insure that a countywide water system is implemented and managed correctly. I will work cooperatively with the towns to achieve our common goals on this issue and will look for every way possible to save money on this expensive project. Also, I will advocate refining the Water Line Extension Policy so citizens in financial need and sites that provide critical community services will be able to obtain a safe and reliable water supply.
Rickie McFalls
Yes, I would start looking for grants, stimulus money or other sources first. If none was available we should start putting money in the budget each year to get started.
Benny Smith
Yes, I support a county-wide water system. The future water system is designed to serve critical facilities and higher-density planned development within our county. The expanded water system will also be used for fire protection and will determine insurance rates for our citizens. The proposed system will also serve as a secondary supply for the municipal systems within our county. We must work with Columbus, Saluda and Tryon to make this a total-county water system to assure our citizens have the lowest water rate possible. The current economy dictates ever-changing funding options. There are several possible sources for funding future water projects. Federal and state sources for grants and loans are options. We need to work diligently to attain these sources.