Though cost rises, Locust optimistic for long-term

Published 7:32 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

By Shannon Beamon, for the SNAP

A change of plans will raise the cost of a sewer project in Locust by about $900,000.

However, the short-term expense should provide long-term savings and opportunities, officials say.

Originally, Locust planned to spend about $2.3 million on the project, staff explained at the city council’s last meeting. Most of those improvements were targeted at the northern part of the city where a large amount of residential development is occurring.

However, the plans put a large amount of stress on a sewer station on Meadow Creek Church Road. In fact, the increased usage along those lines would eventually require costly improvements to both that station and a force main running along the highly trafficked N.C. Highway 24-27.

“We’d eventually be looking at some pretty big costs,” City Administrator Cesar Correa said.

So after talking to their engineers, the city decided it would be more efficient to run a new force main from Meadow Creek Church to N.C. Highway 200 (laying the pipe along Creekview, Maple, Dogwood and Danita roads). From there a gravity fed sewer extension could be run down to the existing system along N.C. 24-27.

The revised plans — which requires more new sewer lines than the original — will raise the cost of the proposed project to $3.2 million, but it will also avoid additional stress on the Meadow Creek sewer station and the need for improvements along N.C. 24-27, engineers vouched.

“That will decrease the costs to both operate and maintain the station,” Correa said.

In fact, it will also allow the Meadow Creek station to operate exclusively as a vacuum station, cutting further operational expenses, he added.

“Currently that is our most expensive station to run,” Correa said. “So while the revised plan requires more up front capital, it’s the better improvement in the long run.”

Once the project is completed, the city should have enough sewer capacity to handle a 5 percent growth rate for the next 10 years, engineers noted.

“And if we grow faster than that … we can simply go in and change the pumps because lines and infrastructure in place,” Correa said.

Now that the city council has approved the project changes, engineers will finalize those plans and then put them out for bid. If all goes smoothly, construction could begin by late summer of 2019.

“It’s also important to note that there will be no sewer rate increases or personnel cuts associated with these improvements,” Correa said. “The city has been planning for this a long time and the expense will not put any additional financial strain on the people here.”

Shannon Beamon is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.