Excluded pesky public?

Published 3:38 pm Monday, July 24, 2017

Being that the Broad River Water Authority Feasibility Study of the Regionalization of Water Systems is now 3 months late and there have been no updates forthcoming from the Polk County Commissioners, I reached out to Amy Simes, PE, Senior Program Manager/State Water Infrastructure Authority to check on the (grant) study’s status.

She states the proposed schedule, found in the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), are just estimates and can be adjusted as needed by the regional stakeholders group (BRWA, ICWD, POLK). She mentioned it took longer than anticipated to secure the awarded engineering firm – Arcadis.

Next, I asked for clarification over the RFQ document, Task Series 5: Public Participation, which states: “After comments have been received from the Regional Stakeholder Group, the final Water System Regionalization Study will be presented to each of the local governing bodies of each of the regional stakeholders to request official adoption of the plan.”

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Amy Simes agreed with me that this ‘seemingly’ indicates that at this point, the ‘study could transform into an officially adopted plan which has just bypassed Polk County public participation and that is certainly not the States intent. She assured me, she will look into the matter with her superiors. Outrageously ironic that under this grants deliverable ‘Public Participation’ section, that there won’t be any! No public presentations-explanations-education-public comments-public hearings regarding a public water supply plan?

Attention, apparently excluded Pesky Public Stakeholders: Please make sure our Polk County Commissioners do not even think of officially adopting any merger – regionalization public water supply ‘plan’ without our rights to fully understand and respond first, to the ‘study’s’ recommendations, details and implications. This is supposed to be a feasibility merger ‘study’ – not a ‘plan’ (yet). It is bound to be very complicated with a trio of self-interests at play, the least of which should not be the Polk County citizens who deserve to be included.

Let the commissioners know, us citizens are stakeholders too and have skin in this game of best public water resource decisions. After all it is our future.

Sky Conard, Mill Spring, N.C.