Council to consider funding emergency repairs for North Fork water plant

Asheville city seal

After months of occasional boil water advisories and less-than-savory faucet flows, Asheville is not yet finished with efforts to ensure its water quality. During their meeting of Tuesday, March 10, Asheville City Council members will consider a $473,000 contract for emergency repairs at the North Fork Water Plant, the largest of the city’s three water treatment plants.

According to a staff report available before the meeting, the repairs will include replacing five “baffle curtains” in the plant’s 5 million-gallon water storage tank. These barriers, first installed in 2008, increase the time that water stays in contact with disinfectants. The report notes that four of the five curtains have since fallen to the bottom of the tank, leading plant managers to treat the water with more chemicals to meet minimum state and federal mandates.

The contract also includes testing the foundation of the plant’s sodium hypochlorite storage area. According to the staff report, settling has caused cracking of the floor, support pads and foundation beneath two tanks that together hold up to 24,000 gallons of the disinfectant.

If the contract, which is on Council’s consent agenda, is approved, the city will hire California-based Brown and Caldwell to manage the repairs. Funding will come from Water Resources capital improvement money that had previously been allocated to the N.C. Department of Transportation for infrastructure management projects; according to the staff report, those projects “are delayed and will not require payment in the current fiscal year.”

In other news

City Manager Debra Campbell will provide an update on COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China. The presentation was not available before the meeting.

As of March 9, only two cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in North Carolina, with one each in Wake and Chatham counties. Buncombe County did not have any confirmed cases as of press time. According to data collated by Johns Hopkins University, a total of 604 cases of COVID-19 have so far been recorded across the U.S., with 22 deaths.

Consent agenda

Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains seven items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following resolutions:

  • Set a public hearing on Tuesday, March 24, for developer Tribute Companies to apply for a Land Use Incentive Grant for a 54-apartment development at 11 Collier Avenue. The proposed development will offer 100% of its apartments to those earning 60%-80% of the area median income.
  • Renew a contract with LexisNexis for the use of crime analysis tool ACCURINT Virtual Crime Center, which centralizes data regarding people, places, vehicles, phone numbers and other information to aid police officers in investigations. The contract, established in 2016 at $29,600 per year, builds in a 3% annual cost increase, bringing the cost of this year’s contract to $35,000.
  • Permitg the city manager to apply for $398,390 in federal grants to help fund paratransit services and a portion of the operating costs of Asheville Rides Transit’s Route 170, which provides bus service from downtown Asheville to Black Mountain. If awarded, the city will be required to provide $149,145 in matching funds.

Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. A previously scheduled budget briefing set for 3 p.m. in the same location has been canceled. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.


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