NC--Water Leak Detectors May Prevent Another Water-System Failure : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


State is helping town get water

 Walnut Cove hopes leak detectors, new wells prevent another water-system failure

By Sherry Wilson March 14, 2000

Last year, Walnut Cove's water system was so poorly mapped that officials couldn't find a 6-inch hole in a pipe until the leak drained the town's water-storage tanks.

Today, after five months under state supervision, there's a new way of doing things.

Now, computerized leak detectors use a sonar-like technology to find breaks in the town's water system. Sensors installed in two of the town's storage tanks alert the town manager and others by phone if water levels drop significantly. And, there's the hope that Walnut Cove's system, which is dependent on well water, could get a backup water supply if water lines are extended four miles past Germanton into the town limits.

''I think the town has come a good way. . . . I feel like it would take quite a lot for us to have that situation again,'' said Town Manager Larry Bergman, referring to two times last year when the town's water system failed and left 775 homes and businesses without water for more than two days.

No one wants to go back to incomplete maps and hit-or-miss leak detections, he said.

Although Walnut Cove has needed to extend some deadlines, town officials have been working closely with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to make progress, said Lee Spencer, a regional engineer in the department's Winston-Salem office.

The town's water system is up from four wells to six, Bergman said. An old well that was contaminated with ethylene dibromide is back on line with filters in place. And a new well was dug. This spring, the town may try to add a seventh well to the system, an existing one in the Walnut Tree subdivision.

Another boost to the water system could come from the Stokes County Water and Sewer Authority. The authority is considering running a water line from Germanton on N.C. 65 to Walnut Cove this year, said Lisa Routh, an engineer with Cavanaugh and Associates, which is working with the authority.

The project, which could cost as much as $900,000, is awaiting money from the General Assembly, she said.

The water line would run through Walnut Cove to the Dan River, Routh said.

It would be owned by the authority, which would buy the water from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission.

Walnut Cove would then have the option of buying water from the authority.

It would be a big step forward for Walnut Cove, said Ron Morgan, a nonvoting member of the water and sewer authority. Morgan, who is also director of the Stokes County Economic Development Office, said that an adequate water supply is one part of the infrastructure that the town needs to recruit industry.

''If that were feasible, it certainly wouldn't cure Walnut Cove's problems, but it would go a long way to address their problems,'' he said.

A new water line wouldn't make the town dependent on Winston-Salem/Forsyth County for water, Bergman said. It would be a backup. When Walnut Cove is hit with an unusually high water demand in the summer months, the town could take advantage of the extra water. Eventually, the water line could set the stage for a regional water system, he said.

) Piedmont Publishing Co.

-- (, March 14, 2000

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