RED SPRINGS — Water in the Westside Heights area should be sparkling soon with a nearly $1 million rejuvenation.
The town has received a $589,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center to tear down a dilapidated water tank on Williams Street, and to run new pipes that will bypass the tank, Town Manager James Bennett said.
The town has also taken out a four-year no-interest loan of about $500,000, funded by a $2 increase in water and sewer rates in the fiscal year, Bennett said.
“This is a grant we’ve been working on for some time,” Mayor John McNeill said. “… People in that area have been having issues with sediment and low-water pressure for a number of years. Our water has high iron content, so you get a lot of issues with rust through the years.”
The 200-gallon tank was built in the 1930s as part of a textile mill that was once one of the largest in the United States, according to Public Works Director George Hall.
“Like a lot of towns in Robeson County, we are only utilizing a small portion of our water plant capacity,” McNeill said. “For a number of years, we had a large capacity for the textile mills and now we’re only producing 25 percent of the water that we were producing 10 to 15 years ago.”
Although the water tank is no longer in use, pipes that bring in water from the town’s wells still run through the tank and collect rust and sediment, Hall said.
“The water tank is an old, old water tank that we tried to take offline and we could not,” he said. “We don’t need the water tank and we need it removed for safety reasons.”
Hall said the tank is in danger of toppling and poses a risk to nearby homes.
“We’re glad that we’re going to be able to help the citizens by removing an impending danger and also helping the quality of water in that area,” Bennett said. “… We just didn’t have the funds to remove it ourselves.”
Hall said the town is advertising for bids and work should start within the next “couple of months.” He said the tearing down of the water tank and running of new lines should be complete within three to six months.
The $500,000 grant is part of $3.4 million awarded in 24 grants recently by the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center that will create a total of 349 jobs in 16 counties. Funding for the grant, created to address public or environmental health issues, is provided by appropriations of the General Assembly and the state’s 1998 Clean Water Bonds, according to the center.