Water focus of county/town joint meeting tomorrow

Published 2:53 pm Monday, August 2, 2010

Elected officials and managers from Polk County, the towns of Columbus and Tryon and the City of Saluda will meet again tomorrow to discuss water.

This discussion should be a little different from joint water meetings held several years ago that ended in a split. This year, the group appears to be in agreement that the county and towns need to look into a joint water system and has sought information from the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority in Jackson County, N.C., which has&bsp; accomplished a similar joint venture in recent years.

The meeting tomorrow is being hosted by the Town of Columbus and will be held at Columbus Town Hall at 7 p.m. The meeting is the second joint meeting that was sparked in recent months by Columbus officials, who said theyd like to collaborate with the county and other towns on similar issues.

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Other topics were also discussed at the first meeting held in June, including joining together on economic development, recreation, sewer services, tourism and joint purchasing among several other services.

At the June meeting, county and town officials discussed the need to join water systems for the future. Columbus officials have since contacted the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority and sent the authority questions regarding how they created the joint system. Tomorrows meeting will also include Joe Cline, Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authoritys executive director, who has agreed to meet with Polk and its towns.

Local elected officials and managers will talk with Cline about how Jackson County developed its joint water system.Officials will also review questions they sent to Tuckaseigees Authority and answers they have recently received.

The Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority was created in 1992 when the county of Jackson and towns of Dillsboro, Sylva and Webster consolidated their water and wastewater utilities.

Polk County, Columbus, Saluda and Tryon did not come to an agreement on creating a water authority several years ago. The towns decided to group together and create a back-up water system between the towns systems, and the county decided to create its own water system. The county has since purchased Lake Adger for a future water source, and the towns are in the process of running a water line between Tryon and Saluda and placing a reverse valve on a water line that already connects the Tryon and Columbus water systems. The project is expected to be completed this fall and will mean Columbus, Saluda and Tryon can exchange water when needed.

Tryon expressed the most interest in joining with the county in the future and Columbus and Saluda officials both said they want to look into a joint system.