Yadkin River

Raw water intake for North Wilkesboro would be built on a section of the Yadkin River downstream from West Park.

The Town of North Wilkesboro is eligible to receive a $6.74 million loan from the state for building a raw water intake on the Yadkin River and related work, according to a “letter of intent to fund” from the State Revolving Loan Section of the N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure.

The July 19 letter said up to 25% of the loan ($1.68 million) would be forgiven and the remainder repayable over 20 years with no interest. It said the town would have to pay a 2% loan fee ($134,706).

The letter was addressed to Interim Town Manager Ed Evans, who said Tuesday that town officials anticipated the project costing about $8 million. Evans said this was based on results of a preliminary engineering study by Charlotte-based Kimley-Horn and Associates. The North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro governing bodies learned results of the study in a joint meeting on Jan. 8.

At that meeting, Kimley-Horn engineer Matt Shoesmith recommended that North Wilkesboro build a raw water intake on the Yadkin for its water system rather than on W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. The Yadkin would then replace the Reddies River as North Wilkesboro’s primary raw water source.

The Reddies hasn’t been able to fully meet North Wilkesboro’s water needs during periods of drought and has problems with sedimentation. Comments by North Wilkesboro commissioners have indicated support for building an intake on the Yadkin, but they must still take formal action to accept the loan.

Shoesmith recommended that North Wilkesboro build a raw water intake on the Yadkin able to pump 6 million gallons of water (MGD) per day, install a 5,525-foot-long water line from the pump station there to the town water treatment plant and add two Actiflo pre-treatment systems at the treatment plant. Kimley-Horn estimated the cost of this at $7.75 million.

Kimley-Horn estimated the cost of a Kerr Scott intake and pump station capable of providing North Wilkesboro with 6 million gallons per day (MGD), along with the pipeline, at $13.76 million.

The Kimley-Horn report called for building the new raw water intake on the Yadkin in the vicinity of West Park and the greenway bridge over the Yadkin, a little over a mile downstream from Wilkesboro’s raw water intake. Shoesmith said an easement for water lines from the new raw water intake on the Yadkin was already in place there for the proposed Kerr Scott intake project.

Wilkesboro is pursuing plans to expand capacity of its raw water intake on the Yadkin and install the Actiflo system at its water treatment plant as a less costly alternative to the Kerr Scott intake project.

Shoesmith said that because the water classification of the Yadkin at the proposed intake site is Class C (not classified for drinking water), it would need to be reclassified by the state. Officials said this could take about 18 months.

He said the state would let North Wilkesboro shift a withdrawal agreement drawn up in 2012 for a Kerr Scott intake to an intake on the Yadkin. This allows pumping 2.7 to 4.2 MGD. Anything greater than 4.2 MGD would require a new regulatory review, he said.

North Wilkesboro’s current water usage is 2.6 to 2.7 MGD, with summer spikes approaching 3.0 MGD. The town’s water treatment plant capacity is 4 MGD.

Earlier plans called for Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro to split the cost of building an intake on Kerr Scott and pipelines to the two town water treatment plants. This intake was designed to produce 24 MGD of raw water, but actually only 14 MGD due to the size of pipes to be installed. The state approved a $30 million, 30-year interest free loan for the Kerr Scott project.

The two towns had to each pay half of about $1.5 million spent on the Kerr Scott intake project after it was dropped.

The July 19 letter to Evans said the $7.74 million loan was contingent on approval by the Local Government Commission (LGC) and the town meeting certain requirements by certain dates. The letter was signed by Vincent Tomaino, acting chief of the State Revolving Loan Section.

Evans said the LGC will review the town’s most recent audit to determine its ability to fund the project using its unrestricted water and sewer monies. He said the LGC will also consider how town capital projects underway impact its ability to the pay the debt. The LGC is part of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer.

The State Water Infrastructure Authority determined the town was eligible for the $6.74 million loan, which would be from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

The July 19 letter said approval of the loan is also contingent on the town submitting an engineering report on the raw water intake project to the Division of Water Infrastructure by Dec. 2, 2019, and receiving division approval of the engineering report by May 1, 2020. It said the engineering report must follow guidelines listed on the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality website.

Other deadlines that must be met for the loan to be approved include:

• submitting a construction bid and design package to the division for approval by Nov. 20, 2020, and receiving approval by March 1, 2021;

• advertising the project for construction bids, receiving bids, submitting bid information to the division and receiving authority from the division to award a bid to a contractor for building the raw water intake by July 1, 2021, and;

• signing a construction contract with a contractor by Aug. 2, 2021.

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