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Tryon agrees to join Columbus and Saluda for water inter-connect report

TRYON – The Town of Tryon agreed this week to join the Town of Columbus and City of Saluda in paying for an engineering report from Jonathan Hollifield, with Watermark Engineering Inc., to detail the issues of the water interconnect between Tryon and Saluda.

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Aug. 15 and heard from town manager Zach Ollis about the engineering report.

Each town will contribute $8,500 towards the report, for a total of $25,500.

Ollis said Tryon is supposed to put in a number in the system, press a button and send a certain amount of water to Saluda.

“It doesn’t exactly work that way,” Ollis said.

Ollis said the system from Tryon to Columbus is working. He also said the money Tryon will pay for Hollifield’s report will be pulled from the money the towns received in the settlement after the towns sued the former engineer of the project.

Commissioner Bill Ingham said he doesn’t want to spend a large amount of money because he doesn’t see the system being used anyway.

Tryon mayor Alan Peoples said the towns spent $1.5 million and they settled for $300,000 in the lawsuit. He said engineers may say it’s never going to work.

Tryon approved spending the $8,500 from the settlement money for the engineering report in order to know what needs to be fixed in the system.

The Town of Columbus and City of Saluda also approved contributing $8,500 for the report.

The report will be a study that will determine the current issues with the system, the steps needed to repair the issues, and the costs associated with the repairs.

The water line, pumps and tank were installed several years ago, with construction completed in 2008, but shortly after, it was discovered the system did not work.

The project was paid for partly through a state grant and partly through financing that each of the three towns shared. The interconnect system did not work with the first issue noticed being that when Saluda tried to send water to Tryon, Saluda water customers had low to no water pressure. The towns sued the engineer who designed the system, Joel Wood, and settled to receive approximately $300,000.

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden said the lawsuit dealt with lost pressure in Saluda when the system was turned on. He said the state grant paid for approximately $1.5 million of the project and the towns spent approximately $1.5 million in financing the remainder of the project over the next 20 years.

Saluda mayor Fred Baisden said in July that he has been told repairs could cost between $700,000 – $1 million.