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TWSA adopts private sewer line to speed up bridge replacement

The Sylva Herald & Ruralite of Sylva, North Carolina

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A private sewer line causing a hitch in the Old Cullowhee Road bridge replacement project is no longer a concern for state officials.

Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority board members voted unanimously Sept. 15 to adopt the private sewer line in question as an "orphan" line.

Plans for a new bridge spanning the Tuckaseigee River next to Western Carolina University's back entrance originally called for construction to begin this winter; TWSA Director Dan Harbaugh said a nearby private sewer line, located within N.C. Department of Transportation right of way, needs to be moved before any work can begin.

The problem, he said, is that supporting documents, such as an encroachment agreement or an N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources permit, don't exist.

DOT couldn't turn to the original developer for relocation of the line because they are no longer in business, and state regulations prevent NCDOT from taking action on its own.

That's when DOT officials approached TWSA to see if they would consider taking ownership, which would give DOT the option to eliminate the line at no cost to TWSA and continue pushing toward the bridge's replacement.

Running parallel with the private line is a TWSA main available for surrounding property owners to connect to. Three property owners have already made the switch, but three more are still on the private line.

The plan is for the remaining affected property owners, after being provided written notice of the pending change, to be severed from the private line and become TWSA customers on the adjacent system, Harbaugh said.

The agreement between the authority and DOT is contingent upon TWSA not being held responsible for any issues property owners may have faced with the private line prior to them taking it over.

This line is the same one that had a sewage leak reach the Tuckaseigee after damage occurred during installation of a natural gas main close by, Harbaugh said. TWSA ended up repairing the leak and will seek reimbursement from the gas company.

Looking ahead to the bridge replacement on Old Cullowhee Road, the $6.7 million project is expected to last between 18 and 24 months.

One lane of traffic will remain open during construction; travelers can anticipate five-to seven-minute delays during peak traffic hours and one-to two-minute delays otherwise.

Construction could begin as early as February, according to DOT project engineer Brian Burch. DOT still in the process of relocating utilities and completing right of way acquisitions, he said.

In other business, TWSA board members:

Approved the relocation of a water supply line crossing the Tuckaseigee as part of the aformentioned bridge replacement project;

Voted unanimously to submit a Letter of Intent package to the Golden Leaf Foundation for its Community Based Grantsmanship Initiative.

The initiative is designed to award $1.5 million toward up to three projects in each Western North Carolina county.

TWSA, working with county Manager Chuck Wooten, will seek funding for the upcoming work to be done in Cashiers, including the first phase of building a new wastewater treatment plant and other improvements to the sewer collection system;

Voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to apply for a grant for the Valhalla Apartments Water System Consolidation project following poor water quality results from the apartment's water system. Also included in the application package are related projects potentially involving the Cowan Valley homeowners' association and apartments near the WCU campus;

Heard from Lorna Powell of the Magnolias on Cope Creek homeowners' association regarding the recent detection of hexavalent chromium in an area well.

Powell said although the homeowners' association still has to make a decision on how they will address the issue, she wanted to know what the hexavalent chromium level is in TWS A's water and whether they plan on extending their water main along Cope Creek Road to solve the problem.

Harbaugh said TWSA usually only tests for the total chromium level; however, additional tests to find the prevalence of the hexavalent chromium compound could be planned.

As for solutions, he said he would like to wait for additional research and information to come out before making any decisions.



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Original Publication Date: October 8, 2015



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