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Future water authority

Polk considers joining commission with BRWA and ICWD

COLUMBUS—Polk County is considering joining a commission with the Broad River Water Authority and Inman-Campobello Water District that will set the stage to create a water authority in the future. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and heard from Belton Zeigler, partner with Womble Bond Dickinson LLP regarding an amendment to the BRWD and ICWD management agreement. 

Zeigler explained the agreement, which was first entered into in 2008. BRWD connected to ICWD through Polk County, where Polk owns the water line and is able to extend water lines throughout the county. ICWD manages and administers Polk’s water system and customers. 

Zeigler said parts of the regional contract are getting close to expiring and suggested the agreement have a structure to deal with Polk customers resolving issues when they have a problem. 

Another amendment to the agreement is to create a commission with representatives from each entity. Zeigler explained that this could set the state for the regional system to create a water authority in the future. At this point in North Carolina statutes, because of wording including only North Carolina, a water authority cannot be created without legislation approving either a local bill or changing its statutes. 

“It might make sense to make a regional water authority,” Zeigler said. “Other cities and towns may want to be a part of that.” 

He explained how creating an authority will require a change in legislation as the current legislation does not allow creating an authority from another state, which ICWD is in South Carolina. 

County manager Marche Pittman said the county, BRWA and ICWD held a worksession and the discussion was about creating a water authority. The conclusion was that right now an authority is not a possibility. 

Zeigler said creating the commission is a step towards creating an authority. He said when the entities go to legislation, they will have all the pieces in place. 

“I think it’s a good step forward,” said county attorney Jana Berg. 

She said if the county does go with an authority it will give the towns an opportunity to join it as well. 

Commissioners did not make any decisions on the amendments or the commission this week, but plan to make a decision during the first meeting in November.