Kenbridge council discuss taking over industrial park water tower

Published 10:17 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

The county is offering to relinquish its interest in the water tower in the Lunenburg Commercecentre in Kenbridge to the town.

Now town council — which was told of, and discussed, the offer at its Tuesday, June 21, meeting — has to decide whether to accept or not, and right now they are not enthusiastic.

Council tabled the issue.

“I guess the county doesn’t want to own it and the town doesn’t either,” Mayor Emory Hodges said. “I think we’re in the same position we’ve been in for a while — we don’t know what to do with it.”

The tower has been inactive for approximately nine years, and the town does not have enough water demand to reactivate it.

When the tank was built the industrial park was thriving. But the town — like the rest of the region — has seen much of its industrial base drain away.

Now, noted Vice Mayor Ken Blackburn, “We don’t even have any need for that tank.”

The tower is a 500,000-gallon tank, and the town only uses approximately 110,000-gallons a day. It also already has a 400,000-gallon tank it is using.

But the town’s biggest fear is the cost that could be associated with sole ownership.

Just such basic maintenance as painting it could be as much as $200,000, said Councilman Danny Thompson, who is also the town’s water treatment chief operator.

Reactivating it would also mean testing it — which would involve draining the tank, cleaning the interior, inspecting it, testing the tank, refilling it and going through the process again before it can be refilled and used, Thompson said.

The water has been in the tank nine years and is still clear, but just turning the valve to use it would prompt the need to immediately issue a boil water notice over the possibility of bacterial contamination in the drinking water system, Thompson said.

Use of the tank was discontinued at the behest of the state health department, which oversees water quality, town leaders said. Bringing it back online could cause the town to fail a water quality test.

“It’s going to cost you a fortune — outside of the tower — if you fail,” Thompson said.

Some council members noted, however, that while the town may not want the tower now, it might one day.

“The cost is going to be the cost — it doesn’t cost us anything to take it,” Blackburn said. Though later he supported tabling the issue because he didn’t “feel confident making a decision right now.”

Thompson said the town could decide to use it but “the question would be, could that tank, where it’s located, provide enough pressure” to serve the entire town?