Town votes to seek $2M in grants to help water district

By Clint Parker

Woodfin – Tuesday evening (August 18), the Woodfin Board of Commissioners at their regular monthly meeting heard from members of McGill & Associates on the possibility of a $2 million grant to extend water lines for the Woodfin Water System.

Keith Webb, McGill’s vice-president, told the board his group had found a state community development block grant (CDBG) of up to $2 million to be used to extend water lines on Ingle Road an area that is plagued by bad water. Webb said the project would not take all the money, so he also proposed extending the water lines on Flynn Branch and Old Leicester Hwy.

Residents of Ingle Road approached the board last September to ask for help in getting water up the road. Danny Wright of Ingle Road spoke first about a potable water problem. “The water down Ingle Road is absolutely terrible. Its got iron and it’s really unusable,” said Wright.

What makes this application for the grant unique is the town does not own the water system. The system is owned by the Woodfin Water District, which was formed decades before the town.  While the water district can not apply for the grant, the town can and Webb believes an interlocal agreement between the town and the water district, with the town as the applicant, will suffice the application’s regulations.

“Woodfin Water is not eligible they way they are formed under the general statutes,” Webb told the board. He explained that two of his grant writers had looked into obtaining the grand and “fortunately” the grant cycle was extended this year until November.

“What we’re proposing to you all is a program where the Town of Woodfin would be the applicant for the CDBG fund. You would enter into an interlocal agreement with Woodfin Water,” proposed Webb, who said once built the new infrastructure would be turned over to the water department. As part of the requirements, the grant is to benefit low- to moderate-income earners, Webb told the board.

Water, supplied by Woodfin Water on the west of the French Broad River, is bought by the Woodfin from the City of Asheville. 

Webb said, if the town was interested in the grants and doing the interlocal agreement, that the next step would be a public hearing at the next town meeting where residents could find out more, a gauge of income levels could be obtained along with the level of interest in the project. The $1,750 residential tap fee charged by the water district would be eligible to be paid by money from the grant Webb disclosed to the commissioners. 

Woodfin Commissioner Don Hensley asked if the rates would be outside the district rates, which are higher than inside the district, and Webb said yes, “that’s right.”

Woodfin Commissioner Don Honeycutt asked if there was a minimum number of residents asking to tap onto the system required to be eligible for the grant. Webb responded, “No. We just have to show the need.  He said his engineering firm would probably run water quality and quantity tests, with permission from residents interested in receiving Woodfin Water, to help boaster the need for the grant. 

Hensley then asked a rather obvious question, “I may have missed this, but how is McGill going to get paid?” Webb replied, “We bought the project to you; whatever our costs are, we’re going to hold that cost until such time the project gets funded and then we would have the engineering contract to do the work.”

The commissioners unanimously voted to move forward with the project. 

Joseph Martin, director of Woodfin Sanitary Water & Sewer District, asked about the proposed project said, “We are delighted to work with the town to try to make this grant project happen. It would be a great improvement for the homeowners in those areas, some of whom have had trouble with their wells. These kinds of projects are really a win for everyone.”

Editor’s note: Read related story above.


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