Wilmington, NC – County commissioners for both Pender and New Hanover vote today on whether to fund preliminary studies for a proposed joint sewer plant on Highway 421.
New Hanover County brings a state permit for the plant to the deal. Pender County brings 350 acres of land near the county line where it already plans to build a water treatment plant.
New Hanover County manager Bruce Shell says putting in water and sewer could spur growth along 421, but that the project will have initial costs.
"My preliminary analysis shows that New Hanover County, and likely Pender, will have to front the project a little in the beginning and then as it's built out, it will more than pay for itself."
An early engineering analysis gave an estimated pricetag of $8 million for Pender and $15 for New Hanover County to construct a one million gallon a day plant. Additionally, running sewer lines along 421 could cost New Hanover $7.8 million. While New Hanover is permitted to build a 4 million gallon-a-day plant, Shell says the current demand might dictate building the smaller plant, with room to expand.
Pender does not currently plan to run sewer lines from the plant beyond its surrounding industrial park.
New Hanover County's sewer permit runs out in 2011. Shell says that, while the permit has been renewed in the past, state officials have told him there's no guarentee it will be renewed if it goes unused this time.
New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington are still moving toward combining their water and sewer systems into an independent Authority. Shell says the possibility of a new plant hasn't been discussed during that process.
"New Hanover County would take this on with Pender and hold the Water and Sewer Authority harmless with any expenses as we move forward."
One sticking point in negotiations has been whether the Cape Fear Utility Authority would have the power to make agreements to provide service to other governments without getting approval from County Commissioners and the City Council.
Gareth McGrath of the Star News helped with this story.
View the item on the Pender County Commissioners' agenda (item 5)
View a map of the area: