Norwood, Stanly, Union leaders gather to celebrate water project completion

Leaders from Norwood, Union County and Stanly County gathered on the shores of Lake Tillery on Thursday morning to celebrate the imminent completion of the Yadkin Regional Water Supply Project.

The project, made possible through a regional partnership including the Town of Norwood, Union County and Stanly County, will ensure a sustainable water supply to Union County, while enabling the Town of Norwood to quadruple its water draw, and will provide Stanly County with up to nearly a million-gallon draw as well.

Norwood Mayor Linda Campbell opened Thursday’s ceremony, welcoming those in attendance.

“Lake Tillery is one of Norwood’s most treasured resources,” Campbell said. “This project will ensure that we can continue to depend on the lake as our water source for years to come.”

Norwood Commissioners Robbie Cohen and Wes Hartsell also remarked on how the project will provide water for the town in a sustainable manner.

“We are here to celebrate the completion of some impressive infrastructure and a transformational project,” said Cohen. “It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable resource we have in Lake Tillery, which in addition to providing drinking water, is a source of natural beauty, hydro power, wildlife support, recreation and relaxation.”

Hartsell spoke of the importance of protecting the water supply for future generations.

“My grandson tells me that the water we have here on earth now is the same water that’s always been here,” he said, “and that would mean this is the same water that the dinosaurs played in and that sustained them. The same is true for the residents of Norwood, Stanly and Union counties. We need the water to sustain life, and we must take care of the water and keep it pristine.”

Melissa Merrell, vice chairperson of the Union County Commission, described the project as “one of the most significant infrastructure projects in North Carolina” before offering some background on how the project came to be.

“Union County is situated between two rivers (Yadkin/Pee Dee and Catawba), but has no direct access to either, and we have been planning for future water needs for nearly two decades. We looked at 12 different water supply alternatives, and Lake Tillery was by far our best option…it offered plenty of water, had the least impact on our environment, it was financially feasible and it was compatible with other things we all value,” Merrell said.

Union County Water Engineering Director and Project Manager John Shutak told of the chronology of the project, which began with discussions in 2004, and for which an agreement between Norwood and Union County was signed in 2013. Construction began in 2020, culminating in the first pumping of water from Lake Tillery to Union County in May 2023.

“The list of accomplishments for this project is very long, but the list of people who helped us get here is longer still,” said Shutak before bringing attention to the new pump station facility.

“The facility fits gracefully into the neighborhood while providing the infrastructure we need to access the water in Lake Tillery,” he added.

The facility at first glance appears to be a lake home. However, the structure houses a wetwell, a generator and a surge tank, connected to intake piping from the lake. Pumping controls are housed on the structure’s lower level with a community room/meeting space contained on the upper level. The community room/meeting space also opens onto a covered porch overlooking Lake Tillery.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony, including officials from Norwood Town Council and Union County, followed, after which those in attendance were provided the opportunity to tour the facility,

A second celebration, to be held at the new Yadkin River Water Treatment Plant in Union County will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 21.

Click below for a video about the project.