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Polk commissioner chair answers Bulletin questions on water contract

Editor’s Note: following are responses to Bulletin questions provided by Polk County Commissioner Chair Tom Pack regarding a proposed agreement with the Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD) to share water resources and for ICWD to operate Polk’s water system for the next 75 years.

The Bulletin also asked ICWD General Manager Jeff Walker questions regarding the agreement. See last Friday and Saturday editions of the Bulletin for Walker’s answers.

The next work shop for commissioners to discuss the proposed agreement is scheduled for Monday, July 20 following the county’s regular board meeting that begins at 6 p.m.

1) Is part of the agreement for ICWD to dredge Lake Adger?

In the proposed agreement, ICWD will take over dam repair and maintenance for the next 75 years. This will free up monies to spend on silt abatement. If you look at both things as Lake Adger Maintenance, then ICWD will be taking on approximately half of the responsibility of Lake Maintenance.

 2) Is part of the agreement for ICWD to repair and maintain the dam for the 75 years? If so, why (that seems like a major investment for ICWD not to own the dam) and if not, how long does ICWD plan to repair and maintain the dam?

In our requested contract changes response to ICWD, there is a modification to the contract that makes them responsible for maintaining the dam for 75 years. That part is up for negotiation at this point, but it is very important to us.

3) People against the contract seem to think there is an unnecessary rush to approve the agreement. With 7 years left on the current agreement for ICWD to operate Polk’s water system, what is the rush? or is there a rush? Why now? Why not wait until closer to the end of the current agreement?

We really have two issues to address, lake maintenance and water service. Lake maintenance is an issue that will be ongoing for years and we are responsible for funding all the improvements that need to be made, including dam maintenance and silt abatement. The only reason water service is tied to this agreement is because part of the consideration is access to Lake Adger as a water source. Our current plan submitted to DENR for dam improvements has us starting construction, well before the expiration of the water service agreement with ICWD. Silt abatement is important to us and we feel like it needs to be addressed sooner than later. This contract frees up monies for us to spend on silt abatement.

4) What do you feel Polk County is going to gain from this agreement and what do you feel ICWD is going to gain from this agreement? 

Polk County is gaining a tremendous amount from this contract. We will have a water system that will be funded by the users of the system, instead of the taxpayers. We will no longer have the risk of the maintenance of the Lake Adger dam for the next seventy five years. ICWD will be investing in our infra-structure of over one hundred thousand dollars per year and also we will have access to more water (and sources of water) than what is currently available from Lake Adger. ICWD will fund participation projects that fall within their participation policy which is another investment in Polk County infra-structure. All Polk County’s water needs come first in the contract and our citizens are protected.

5) Is the board considering hiring an expert to advise the county on the contract? If so, why? If not, why?

We will certainly entertain outside council if a majority of the Board of Commissioners doesn’t feel comfortable with any section or term of the contract.

6) What is the county’s plan on dredging Lake Adger? There is an agreement with N.C. Wildlife Commission (WRC), the county and Lake Adger for WRC to dredge the marina. Does the county plan to work with WRC to dredge the marina?

We are currently talking with the WRC to initiate a yearly meeting about the maintenance of the marina going forward. To our knowledge these meetings were never held after the marina access contract was signed in 04-05, so we are working with wildlife to get that process started again. We expect WRC will be a player in any dredging efforts conducted by Polk County.