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Waynesville wastewater woes warrant study redux

Waynesville wastewater woes warrant study redux

If you don’t like what you hear, get a second opinion — at least, that’s what the Waynesville Board of Alderman is doing with a report on the town’s aging wastewater treatment plant.

“Looking at a $19 million wastewater reconstruction price tag, I suggested they get a second opinion from another firm,” said Waynesville Town Manager Rob Hites.

McGill and Associates has agreed to conduct a study on the town’s wastewater treatment system. That study will in essence offer another opinion on a study recently conducted by Asheboro-based firm Utility Technology Engineers-Consultants that revealed some urgent needs and a huge price tag.

Built in 1965, Waynesville’s wastewater treatment plant has an outdated electrical system utilizing parts that can no longer be easily replaced, a dearth of modern monitoring equipment and a deteriorating physical plant.

The price tag — $4.6 million for a five-year Band-Aid or nearly $19 million for a brand new, state-of-the-art facility with a 50-year lifespan — is significant, considering the town’s $30-something million yearly budget.

“It’s an ongoing process,” said Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown. “It’s a plant, and plants wear out.”

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Hites says the project is still years off.

“We’re a long way from spending real dollars,” he said, explaining that it would probably take two years just to get through the permitting process and that the earliest groundbreaking could occur would be around four years from now.

The only costs associated with the project, for now, are likely to be in engineering reports and studies like those conducted by UTEC and McGill; the UTEC study cost $98,000 and the McGill study $15,000.

Brown said when the decisions have been made and the project is ready, the real dollars required will likely be available.

“Probably the biggest option is to get a low-interest loan from the state’s revolving water fund,” Brown said. “We could probably get 1.5 to 2 percent interest.”

The McGill study is expected to be presented to Waynesville aldermen in about three months, at which time they’ll be able to compare options and the pricing thereof before attempting to determine the features and design of the facility, a necessary step before the permitting process can begin.

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