A three-month push to sign up new water customers in the county, toward aiding current and future water infrastructure projects across Sampson, far exceeded the expectations of Public Works officials.
The initiative, which ends this week, offered a reduction in tap-on fee of $100 — fees usually range from $500 for a 3/4-inch tap to $600 for a 1-inch tap — from the beginning of January to March 31 for anyone who wanted to purchase water from the county. To take advantage of the reduced rate, a signed agreement to purchase that water for two years, whether used or not, was required.
Public Works director Lin Reynolds floated the idea last year as one that could expand the customer base around the 505 miles of water lines serving over 5,450 customers. He hoped for around 90-100 new customers. The county was able to secure twice that number with the limited-time rate cut.
“We’re approaching 200 new customers. This is twice what we expected,” Reynolds said Thursday, noting he was “pleasantly surprised” by the success.
The number of new customers, which last year averaged about 10 per month, started out with 42 in January and only grew from there. Public Works officials continue to look for ways to increase the customer base, and a 5-year plan for proposed projects is expected to be presented to the Sampson Board of Commissioners in the near future.
Reynolds has previously shared his desire to see the infrastructure of the system grow. Along with the 500-plus miles of water lines, two production wells have been installed in recent years, with work on a third ongoing and anticipated to be online by December 2018. In addition to its wells, county water is provided through purchases from other municipalities, including Dunn, Clinton, Turkey, Roseboro, Garland and Autryville.
The Public Works director said he would like to possibly see another 25 to 30 miles of additional water lines, but that takes time and money. That is where additional revenue in the form of new customers is vital to the long-term health of the system. He noted specifically the northern and western portions of the county, where there are still a number of residents who have well water.
There are benefits to being on the county system, Reynolds attested.
“They want clean water. It’s treated and tested, checked at the wells and the water source,” he said of county water. “It’s a regulated, safe system. Well water is usually clean, but it’s not tested.”
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