Tryon seeks input from residents on future of water system

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tryon residents interested in the future of the town’s water system should soon have a chance to express their opinions to town council.

Tryon Town Council met March 17 and discussed once again holding a town hall style meeting for residents to give their opinions on water issues, including what the town should do in the future concerning its water system.

Town manager Joey Davis reminded council that they earlier discussed having a town hall meeting about water issues during the town’s March meeting.

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Commissioners suggested a meeting be held at 6 p.m. prior to council’s April or May meeting as an opportunity for residents to talk about water and what they think Tryon should do in the future.

The idea of seeking public opinion on water issues first surfaced in January when Davis suggested input on budget items be sought prior to the budget instead of when council is ready to adopt the budget. Davis suggested getting input on issues such as water and sewer rate increases, the future of the town’s water system, tax increases and the town’s strategic plan.

Tryon has struggled for many years with high water rates and discussed several options over the years, including participating in joint meetings with Polk County, Columbus and Saluda regarding joining in a water authority as well as the possibility of selling the town’s water system after an offer a few years ago was made from NiAmerica to purchase Tryon’s system.

The latest in water discussions has been the Polk County Board of Commissioners asking the towns if they want to join in a proposed water contract with the Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD), where Polk County is considering sharing water resources with ICWD. The original draft contract between ICWD and Polk County is currently being reconstructed after the N.C. Local Government Commission (LGC) said the first draft would not be approved.

In January Davis said Tryon should ask its residents what they think about combining Tryon’s system with the county, selling the water system, joining with ICWD or keeping the system within the town.

Commissioners agreed that they should first get residents’ ideas before deciding what to do with the system, if anything.

Tryon, Columbus, Saluda and Polk County have tried on a few occasions since 2002 to work jointly to combine its water systems. All attempts failed over the years and joint meetings stopped a couple of years ago.

Several residents have spoken to county commissioners during negotiations on the contract with ICWD saying they would rather the county join with its towns than share resources with a South Carolina entity. County commissioners are moving forward with the ICWD contract, but have invited the towns to join in if they choose. The county-ICWD contract is currently in ICWD’s hands, with commissioners saying they will resume discussions once they see the draft, which is anticipated to be soon.

Tryon’s public input meeting on water will be announced once it’s scheduled.