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Polk Central to tap onto waterline project

Polk County school board members unanimously voted Monday, Aug. 12 to connect Polk Central Elementary School to public water when the county completes a waterline extension that will run past the school.

Superintendent Bill Miller said getting connected to a public water system makes sense for the system’s long range planning.

“We are not water people, our focus is education,” Miller said. “We contract with a company to monitor our well water – but why should we be in that business? The benefit of being on a public water system is that whatever the newest regulations are related to water – how it has to be treated, what chemicals to put in it – they [public water systems] have experts to stay on top of those changes.”

Polk County Schools made the decision after receiving a notice from Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD), which will manage the line, about reduced tap on fees. Polk County commissioners unanimously approved the waterline on June 17. The project will extend water from Peniel Road in Green Creek to the Hwy. 9 crossroads in Mill Spring. Surveying for the project was set to begin last month. The project is to be completed by the end of this year.

The county plans to spend $1,353,491.59 on the line and has offered reduced tap fees for residential customers until the end of the year.

Miller said the system wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this deal because a line connecting the school would need to be significantly larger than a residential line.

The school system would likely need around a 3-4 inch line, Miller said, versus the 3/4 –inch or 5/8-inch meters allowed for the $700 reduced fee.

Miller said the amount the school system will have to pay for a new meter and to run a line from the meter to the school is unclear. County engineers were at the school Wednesday, Aug. 14 to discuss a plan of action.

Miller said the board hopes the costs will remain under $10,000.

“When you amortize that cost over say, 40 years, you’re talking about pennies a day,” Miller said.

The system spent $40,000 about three years ago to improve its well system at Polk Central. Miller said at the time it didn’t look like commissioners planned to run water near the school quickly enough to avoid the upgrades.  Miller said the plan is to cap the well in case a need arises for its use in the future.

Miller said the aim would be for the school system to do construction work during next summer. He said because the well system is working properly the school is in no rush to tap on.

Sunny View Elementary would be the only school remaining on a well system after this project is complete.

That school is also facing well issues as Miller said there is a leak in the water tank. Miller said that fix could cost $30-40,000 just like the previous fix at Polk Central. Miller said the system would like to see Sunny View on a public water system in the future as well.