DOBSON — After years of discussions, Dobson residents soon will see some tangible results at the local water treatment facility.
Early in December the Dobson Board of Commissioners voted to accept a bid to replace the two pumps at the plant. The town will pay A.C. Shultes of Carolina Inc. $331,206 to replace the pumps, which failed about a year prior.
The town has been using a rental pump to draw raw water from the Fisher River. The rental has cost the town about $4,000 per month, which is why the town sought to move forward with the pump replacement ahead of other portions of the system overhaul.
Dobson Town Manager Josh Smith said work will begin on the new pumps within eight weeks of the Dec. 8 approval. The contract must be executed, and the pumps will take about six weeks to be delivered. Once the pumps arrive, the replacement phase of the project should take about six weeks.
While the work will negate the need to spend $4,000 a month on rental fees, this also signifies the beginning of a much larger project: the town’s $3.7 million water plant overhaul.
The project has been slow to start, according to Smith’s remarks in the past. The town’s facility lacks a sludge handling system, a deficiency which makes the water treatment plant non-compliant with N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources regulations.
The town has required multiple exceptions to policy to remain operational as it awaits the sludge handling system, which accounts for $1.7 million of the total cost.
Dobson first started plans to upgrade the facility in 2013. However, an engineering firm which was unable to meet deadlines hindered the town’s progress, according to the remarks of town officials.
In September, the town’s new contracted engineer, Kevin Heath, presented a way forward to the town’s board, noting he would have preferred that work began by the end of 2016.
Throughout the course of the project, according to Smith, the town will replace the pumps, add the sludge handling system and replace counter tops, electrical panels, controls and furniture at the plant, among numerous other upgrades.
“This project is pretty much everything,” said Smith. “Any need that was identified down there (at the facility) will be addressed.”
Smith said the next step will be to send the remainder of the project to bid, which he hopes the town will be prepared to do by the summer months of 2017. He hopes the entire project will wrap up by early 2018.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.