Princeville seeks control of water system


By Lindell John Kay
Staff Writer

Friday, July 8, 2016

A successful future for Princeville rests on whether it can regain control of water and sewer utilities, according to new Town Manager Daniel Gerald.

Edgecombe County took over Princeville's four-decades-old water and sewer systems two years ago, folding Princeville into its Water District No. 6.

Gerald, who has a pedigree in municipal water systems, said he believes Princeville can and should resume control of its water and sewer.

“The key to the future is control of the water,” Gerald told residents during last week's town meeting.

The town board said it hired Gerald for his experience with water works. He has served as the director of Water Resources for the town of Spring Lake, which is outside Fayetteville, and director of Public Works for the town of Andres, S.C. Gerald is a member of the N.C. Water Works Association, the American Water Works Association and is a former vice chairman of the N.C. Wastewater Board of Education and Examiners.

Gerald has attained numerous water and wastewater certificates in North and South Carolina. While Gerald's master‘s degree is in public administration, his bachelor’s degree is in environmental science.

Gerald agreed with residents that one of the biggest problems when Princeville ran its own systems was residents who didn't pay their bill.

“The county isn't doing anything special, they're just cutting off people's water until they pay the bill,” Gerald said. “You're going to have to cut some people's water off.”

If Princeville takes back control of the water utilities, the town can become self sufficient, Gerald said.

He told residents he and the board soon will be discussing the matter in closed session with the town's lawyer.

There are approximately 700 customers in District 6, paying a $25 availability fee then $5.75 per 1,000 gallons for the first 5,000 gallons, according to information from the county.

Once the utility's bills are paid, money can be transferred to the town's general fund balance, which could mean a police force for the town, Gerald said.

The Local Government Commission requested the county assume control of Princeville’s water system in December 2014 due to Princeville’s inability to secure funding for needed major repairs. The county inherited Princeville’s 15 miles of water mains, 75 hydrants, 45 valves and one vault. The town has about 700 water customers.

County officials said Princeville's sewer system is in need of almost $6 million in repairs, including lift stations, pumps and lines. County officials previously have said the takeover of the Princeville system would make repairs easier to accomplish since the county is in a better financial position to secure grant funding than the town.

Gerald said he doesn't believe repairs would cost that much and the town could find funding for the projects.