With this summer’s completion of the newly expanded airport runway, and the construction of the new Iotla Elementary school expected for spring of next year, the area north of Franklin is steadily developing. With this in mind, officials with the Airport Authority, Macon County Board of Commissioners and the Town of Franklin are jointly seeking to bring municipal water to the burgeoning area.
The goal of getting a steady water supply to the area is nothing new.
Since 2008, the Airport Authority began looking to increase its water supply for the purpose of fire safety. At its May meeting, airport engineer Eric Rysdon estimated that the proposed project would cost at least $1 million to link a municipal water line from the Riverbend area to the airport by crossing NC 28, via a 12-inch wide water line — some 12,000 linear feet.
In April, Authority Chairman Milles Gregory reported that the airport’s current well water supply was inadequate. With the additional water supply, Gregory said the airport would stand a much better chance of containing potential fires in the future.
At its September meeting, the Authority unanimously voted to have Rysdon perform a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) in order to ascertain the feasibility and potential costs of the water extension project. He began the report in October.
Rysdon explained that the water, belonging to the Town, would have to be run in the most efficient and cost effective way possible, in order to avoid disrupting ongoing road projects on NC 28.
“It takes into consideration other projects and where they are,” explained Rysdon of the report. “It also looks at options on where to bring in the water for cost effectiveness.”
The prospect of bringing treated and reliable municipal water to the area had also been espied from county officials at the threshold of the construction of the new school in 2008.
“We’re pursuing the possibility of getting water to the airport and the school,” said County Manager Jack Horton on Tuesday. “All we have done so far is engage the engineers with W. K Dickson [airport engineers] to see what it would take to get the water from 28. Everybody would like to see water down that way for many reasons —safety in particular.”
Horton added that obtaining the grants or loans necessary to bring the water northward was contingent upon receiving the PER. “It may be a while before we get to it,” he said. “The first part is the PER.”
Even though there is a water source at the site of the new school already, Horton explained that the municipal water would bring many added benefits.
“In the long term, it would be better to have a connection to a municipal water source,” said Horton. “It’s more reliable, it’s already treated, and there is plenty of capacity for consumption and fire protection. It would be beneficial to both the school and airport.”
Gregory echoed Horton, adding that the short distance between the school and the airport insulates the project from costliness.
“It’s really a short distance, the school being near the northeast end of airport runway,” said Gregory on Friday. “We want to get water over to the terminal mostly for safety reasons.”
The PER is expected to be submitted for review at the next county commission meeting on Dec. 13.