At an April 7 Buncombe County Board of Commissioner’s meeting, it was announced that the drinking wells of several families living in The Oaks subdivision in south Asheville had tested positive for low levels of trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent. It is the same chemical that has been identified as the primary ground-water pollutant at the former CTS of Asheville plant, a hazardous-waste site located nearby the subdivision.
In their respective meetings on Tuesday, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and Asheville City Council voted to form a partnership to streamline the extension of a municipal waterline that would serve that neighborhood. County commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $220,000 to cover the cost of materials and supplies needed for the waterline installation, while Asheville City Council unanimously approved more than $100,000 in fee waivers and expenses that will be absorbed by the water resources department by performing the work with an in-house crew.
Construction has been scheduled to begin as soon as possible, with an expected start date of June 2. Officials estimate the project will take about 12 weeks and that water service will be in the subdivision by Sept. 1, according to a joint press release from the city and county.
“This joint city/county effort is the right thing to do for these citizens and we are very appreciative that the city is making this happen so quickly,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey.
Meanwhile, county officials are in the process of developing policy guidelines to determine when it is appropriate to extend public water service where ground-water contamination has been identified. A staff recommendation for this policy should be coming out in the next few months.
— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor