DOBSON — The county put its final seal of approval on a project to extend public water services to a residential area outside of the Mount Airy city limits.
On Monday evening, the Surry County Board of Commissioners voted by a margin of 4-1 to approve an agreement with the city of Mount Airy to fund half of the costs associated with a project to extend water services to Shay Street and Kimberly Drive.
Prior to the vote, Jim Locke had urged commissioners to support the agreement during the board’s open forum. Locke, who had a jar containing an orange-brown water sample with him, owns property on Shay Street.
Water concerns on Shay Street and Kimberly Drive, which are located off Reeves Mill Road in the Mount Airy area, were first presented to county commissioners in late 2016.
After receiving input via questionnaires that commissioners directed county staff to distribute to residents on the streets, board members learned there were wide-spread water quality issues in the area. Residents reported water which was discolored and had a bad odor and frequently had to drill new wells or replace well pumps.
The county board agreed to fund a portion of the costs of a project to run water to the 20 or so affected properties equal to the amount Mount Airy was willing to fund, anticipating the possibility that residents might fund some of the costs.
However, when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted to fund half of the cost of the project without soliciting any contributions from residents, the county board had committed to fund half of the costs.
County Attorney Ed Woltz told commissioners the document they eventually approved requires the county to fund half of the costs, and the city will take the lead in putting the project together. City officials have more expertise in managing such public works projects.
The estimated cost of the project is a little less than $140,000, according to a contracted engineer.
Woltz noted any costs above the estimate will be split between the county and city and at the end of the construction process the system will become the property of Mount Airy.
The city does not have intentions of mandating residents hook up to the system, according to Woltz. However, city officials are confident there will be enough volume of usage to pay for the system.
“I sympathize with you,” said board Chair Eddie Harris, who cast the lone vote against moving forward with the project. “I’ve had water worse than this at my home for years.”
Harris noted he has spent thousands of dollars on filtering equipment for his water, and he believes such equipment could work for residents on Shay Street.
“I don’t think Surry County can afford to run water (lines) to all residents who have iron in their (well) water,” said Harris.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.