One step closer 

Published 11:28 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Bids seeking an engineer for joint water interconnect go out this week 

SALUDA—The towns of Columbus and Tryon and city of Saluda are one step closer to finding out what is wrong and how to fix its joint water interconnect system.  

Saluda City Council met Monday and heard from city manager Jonathan Cannon that all three towns have approved seeking an engineer and bids will go out on Friday.  

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All three towns recently approved sending out requests for proposals from engineers to identify the issues and come up with estimates for repairs.  

The water line is along Howard Gap Road between Tryon and Saluda and does not work. The intention when it was installed years ago was to allow the towns of Columbus and Tryon and city of Saluda to exchange water during emergencies.   

It is also suspected that the line connection suffered damage over the last year because of heavy rains in the area.  

The engineer, once selected, will be paid from money the three towns acquired through a lawsuit against the engineer who designed the system, Joel Wood. The towns received approximately $300,000 from the settlement. Columbus has stated publicly it will not spend any money on the interconnect system above the money from the lawsuit.  

The water line, pumps and tank were installed several years ago, with construction complete 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 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.  

The towns enacted a user fee to water customers to pay back the loan for the water interconnect.  

One of the major issues with the system is when Saluda tries to send water to Tryon, Saluda water customers have low to no water pressure.