By SHAUN SAVARESE
Of The Record Staff
In 1977, Harnett County bought a then 20-year-old water treatment plant from the Town of Lillington.
Yesterday, that same location officially upgraded, increasing its capacity to 42 million gallons daily, more than 14 times what it was in the 1990s.
In front of a crowd of government officials, engineers and county employees, the public utilities department cut the ribbon on the Harnett County Regional Water Treatment Plant upgrade Tuesday morning.
“We are so pleased that we are able to expand the plant,” Harnett County Public Utilities Director Steve Ward said. “We did so from 24 million to 42 million gallons. … We’ve gone from 3 million to 42 million in a little over 20 years.”
Mr. Ward commended the foresight and its application, through the hard work of staff and commissioners.
The director said it also required perseverance from municipal leaders in Benson, Angier and Coats to accept that the county could and would always provide them with water.
“Those three towns got together and the county got together and bought a water treatment plant,” he said. “It wasn’t just a county decision. Think about the cooperation that had to take place.”
He highlighted the differences in distanced regions of the department’s service areas and credited hard work for expansion to places like Duncan, Chalybeate and Spout Springs.
“All those areas, the county went out and sold them on the idea to get rid of their well, issue bonds and go into debt to build and join a fledgling water system,” Mr. Ward said proudly. “That was quite an accomplishment and that’s what makes our See Water Plant, Page 3
From left, Assistant Harnett County Manager Paula Stewart, District 2 Commissioner Abe Elmore, District 3 Commissioner Howard Penny Jr., Russell Underwood, District 4 Commissioner Chairman C. Gordon Springle, Public Utilities Capital Project Manager Ben Nuesmeyer, Public Utilities Director Steve Ward, Public Utilities Assistant Director and Town of Lillington Mayor Glenn McFadden, District 1 Commissioner Barbara McKoy, M.B.D. Consulting Engineer Project Manager Joe McGougan, District 5 Commissioner Joe Miller and Harnett County Manager Joseph Jeffries. Harnett County Regional Water Treatment Plant is now the largest surface water treatment facility on the Cape Fear River.
Daily Record Photo/Shaun Savarese Water Plant
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The director noted that 310 W. Duncan St. is now the largest surface water treatment plant on the Cape Fear River, larger than Wilmington or Fayetteville.
“This is a proud moment for Harnett County. I don’t think people realize how great this thing is,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Gordon Springle said. “This is absolutely the best public utilities system in North Carolina and we are so proud … .”
With the increase in capacity, the plant has now afforded itself added volume in the event of an upcoming need.
Mr. Ward said that by adding 18 million gallons in capacity, the department add flexibility to its system.
He said at times in summer, the plant was operating at its peak. Now, after years of planning and more than 18 months of construction the county will begin work right away on expanding to 69 million gallons a day.
“It all depends on how quickly demand goes up for water,” he said.
Mr. Ward recognized Russell Underwood of Charles Underwood Pumps and M.B.D. Consulting Engineers Project Manager Joseph W. McGougan, P.E. and his team.
Austin Sherear, regional representative for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis was present, along with county Commissioners Barbara McKoy, Joe Miller, Abe Elmore and Howard Penny.
Harnett County Public Utilities Assistant Director and City of Lillington Mayor Glenn McFadden lead the invocation, with Harnett County Emergency Services Director Jimmy Riddle and Fire Marshal Bill Lamm in attendance.
Harnett County has worked on completing this upgrade for years, with former Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Burgin referencing additional expansion in the State of the County address last August.
“Our utilities department is one of the best in the state and has been recognized over the last 10 years for producing the highest quality of water,” he said. “We sell water to six counties and we provide half of all the water to Ft. Bragg and handle all of the sewer for Ft. Bragg.”