Mount Airy officials on Thursday will discuss a joint plan to extend water service to a neighborhood outside the city limits where the need is “deemed” desperate.
A laundry list of water-quality issues has surfaced in the area of Shay Street and Kimberly Drive in the Bannertown area. These include contamination, iron content, a bad smell or taste, low water pressure and volume, discoloration, and a need to replace well pumps often in the neighborhood that contains a number of fine homes.
One of the major problems has been wells running dry.
“Some of these property owners are desperate,” Commissioner Larry Johnson, one of two Mount Airy District representatives on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, summed up in November.
However, a possible solution is on tap — a proposal in which Mount Airy would share the cost of extending a public water line to the area with Surry County. This was triggered by a petition from residents and/or landowners there requesting the service.
The cost of that 6-inch line of 2,750 linear feet would be $139,150, according to an estimate from an engineering firm.
Under the plan to be discussed by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting beginning Thursday at 2 p.m., the city and county would fund that in a 50-50 split.
Twenty-four different properties stand to be affected by the project, among which 13 owners indicated in a county survey that they were interested in public water. Twelve expressed a willingness to pay a monthly fee of $30 to $40 for the service, in addition to the water consumed, and the idea of having them share part of the line cost also has been discussed by county officials.
A benefit for Mount Airy would be more paying customers for its huge water surplus resulting from the closure over the years of textile mills that were major users.
While city officials are expected to weigh in on the plan Thursday afternoon, there has been general agreement among them for marketing city water to areas outside Mount Airy. Its present customers include the town of Dobson and Carroll County, Virginia.
Such willingness was expressed by Commissioner Jon Cawley in early January when discussing the possible extension of municipal water service to another area of Virginia with 75 customers. Cawley said he couldn’t imagine why Mount Airy would “not be excited” about such a plan.
“It would extend our concentric circles and give us a further reach,” he said at that time.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.