We’re failing on infrastructure

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Starring into the sinkholes wreaking havoc on our area over the past month one sees the enormity of a problem most government officials would like to bypass.

We’re failing on infrastructure.

We’re failing on infrastructure (or at best meeting average) not only here, but also around the state and around the nation, too.

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According to a 2013 report card recently released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, North Carolina received a C overall.

As part of that overall score, the state received a D for dams, a C-minus on storm water and a C for wastewater, just to point out a few scores.

Locally, we see the concerns as Tryon has been forced by regular wastewater discharges to move forward with replacing an aging line along East Howard.

For two consecutive weeks heavy rains in Tryon have caused a “half full” 16-inch line to clog and push untreated wastewater out of manholes and into a Vaughn Creek tributary. We’re talking almost 63,000 gallons of wastewater spilling into a creek in just two weeks – this doesn’t account for similar events earlier this year.

Tryon is prepping to replace 1,000 feet of that sewer line with a 24-inch line, but it will take at least $701,000 to do it.

The flooding along East Howard in Tryon, these sinkholes and caving in culverts around the county point to decade old infrastructure.

It’s much easier to say, “Let’s pass this one on to the next council, the next legislature, the next generation. Surely by the time they take power the money will magically appear.”

The truth is materials, labor – everything – will just be more costly down the road and there will likely be even less monies available through grants and government funding to fix what ails us.

We’ve got to start making headway on replacing infrastructure such as waterlines.

We also need to look forward at protecting our current infrastructure by considering what can be done to limit sedimentation along waterways and by preventing influx and infiltration issues in our waterlines. These are just a few examples of what must be done to keep future generations from dealing with infrastructure disasters because we didn’t put forth the energy required to find the problems, consider a real solution and plan for a way to fund those solutions.

After all, this is not just a problem Tryon faces, this is a problem all communities face and that just means a need for creative thinking down the road.

– The Tryon Daily Bulletin Editorial Staff