Lake Adger appraises for $5.1M

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

MILL SPRING – Polk County Commissioners recently discovered Lake Adger is worth $5,150,000 after having the potential water resource appraised.

Commissioners met Oct. 3 and heard from Gerry Hartman, senior appraiser and engineer with Hartman Consultants out of Florida.

The county contracted with Hartman for $35,300.

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The appraisal was done after the majority of commissioners said earlier this year they wanted to look into selling the lake. The county purchased the lake from Northbrook Carolina Hydro LLC in 2008 for $1.6 million for a future water source. The current board of commissioners have said a treatment plant would cost approximately $17 million and there are not enough customers to justify the cost of building and operating a plant.

Hartman said water by itself has no value. He said this was not a normal appraisal and he had to look at the lake’s probable use in order to determine a value.

“You must have inter-local cooperation to make it work,” said Hartman.

Hartman said the three primary users of the lake are Polk County, the Broad River Water Authority (BRWA) and Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD), who all benefit from the water supply.

Hartman said he spoke to all three entities and asked them whether the lake is part of their long-range plan, and is the reservoir something on which they would work together. The answer from all three was yes.

Hartman said in order to come up with the value he looked at the cost of new reservoirs, not ones that were pushed for drought or emergency type conditions, but for alternative water supply.

He said he looked at one city, which also had an 8 million gallon per day (mgd) reservoir, which is what Lake Adger could be permitted for as a water source, and that water was worth between $1.87 to a little over $2 per gallon. He said he used the low range of $1.87 per gallon for Lake Adger because of its uncertainty, such as sedimentation and liabilities associated with it as well as the fact that the lake and dam are 92 years old. He also said he had to take into account that someone would have to get the water to a water treatment plant. The only one currently is BRWA, which is four miles away.

Hartman also said he had to look at how long the asset will actually work, saying he’s estimated an additional 60 years of effective use. He said many reservoirs have been around 100-150 years and there’s not a lot of reservoirs that have been built in North Carolina in recent years.

Lake Adger has no beneficial revenue that is being generated, Hartman said, so it’s a future benefit and he used comparable sales.

“My opinion of value for this particular reservoir is $5,150,000,” Hartman said.

Commissioners briefly discussed the appraisal following Hartman’s presentation.

Commissioner Keith Holbert said Hartman mentioned the three entities that would be interested in going together but when you get right down to it, ICWD is the biggest, “so if they aren’t on board, then you have nothing.”

Holbert said BRWA doesn’t need the water.

Hartman said for the county to go on their own would be very expensive.

Holbert said the county can’t afford $17 million to start its own processing plant.

“A water source like this is not something you would normally call up a realtor and say, ‘It’s on the market, let’s sell it,’” Hartman said. “It doesn’t work like that.”

Commissioner Ted Owens discussed the late commissioner Tom Pack, who Owens said had the foresight to realize the county couldn’t afford to build its own plant and attempted to make a deal with ICWD. Polk negotiated with ICWD for about a year with ICWD pulling out of the negotiations late last year.

“You cannot afford to operate the system with the customer base you have,” Hartman told commissioners.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said when he first came on board the talk was to site the  location for a water treatment plant fairly close to Lake Adger and now the county is not even thinking of that. Gasperson said the county has been through a lot in terms of the lake and said Owens was making reference to how the deal with ICWD fell apart. Gasperson said Hartman has discussed new ways of being collaborative with ICWD and BRWA and he sees things coming together in ways the county didn’t see before.

Holbert said the new board of commissioners coming in after the election will be tasked with covering costs, referring to costs of repairing the Turner Shoals Dam and possible dredging costs.

Commissioner Shane Bradley, who was the first earlier this year to suggest selling the lake, said the county should move forward working with other entities.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to beat our door down to buy it,” Bradley said.

Bradley also said following the appraisal, the county has some revenue opportunities they can look at.

To see the full appraisal, visit

The Bulletin asked county commissioner candidates a question about what they want to do with Lake Adger. See the answers to those questions in today’s Bulletin starting on page 1.