By Valerie A. Hoffman for the Town of Lake Lure

Lake Lure Town Council is moving systematically forward with two comprehensive and complex economic development projects, both of which will result in a dramatic preservation of the community’s critical infrastructure assets.

During its July 10th meeting, Town Council voted to proceed with a new low-pressure sewer system to replace the existing sewer system plant, located on the bed of the lake. They also received a first ever Operations, Maintenance & Inspection Plan for the Lake Lure Hydroelectric Dam.

The plan was researched and completed by Dr. B. Dan Marks, the dam safety expert who completed the recent comprehensive study on the dam’s fragile condition. During Dr. Marks’ inspections earlier this year, it was discovered that such a plan had never been created for the dam.

One of Dr. Marks’ first recommendations toward dam safety and remediation was that the Town needed this critical document in order to plan and prepare for the dam’s operation – both as regular maintenance and in an emergency or significant storm event.   Commissioners will review the OM&I Plan and consider its adoption during the August. 14th Council Meeting.

Moving ahead with the New Low Pressure Sewer System

Although previous plans to build a 20- mile sewer interconnect pipeline to Spindale appeared promising, the need to immediately address the chronic infiltration of lake water into the sewage collection system, and the proposed rates that Lake Lure would have had to pay for services, prompted Town Council to re-assess the project. Additionally, state inspections deemed the entire system “out of compliance,” making the move to replace the system all the more urgent.

A 30-year zero interest loan for $12.5 million dollars, previously approved to the Town for the Interconnect is now being utilized to fund the new pressure sewer system around the lake. During its July meeting, council approved approximately $83,000 from that loan to pay Brown Engineering for planning and project management, environmental permits and reporting.

While planning for the sewer system is still in the earliest stages, the new low pressure system is expected to include approximately 160,000 linear feet of low pressure force main around the lake to the Town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Individual pump stations will be installed at existing residences as needed, with two community pump stations at the Chimney Rock and Rumbling Bald connections. The project will also include the construction of a new sewer treatment plant or require the complete rehabilitation of the Town’s existing plant.

Like the existing gravity sewer collection system, a low pressure sewer system would convey wastewater from customers’ properties to the wastewater treatment facility.

Unlike a gravity connection, low-pressure systems use small grinder-pump stations to move wastewater to/through the transmission system. Low pressure sewage collection systems are typically installed in places where difficult terrain, such as exist in Lake Lure, render gravity sewers cost-prohibitive and impractical.

Part of the loan requirement for building a new system means that the Town will move expeditiously on this project. Engineering and design will take about 10-12 months and the new system will be completed in 2-3 years. Town Council is continuously reviewing the details of this project along with the heavy involvement of the Utility Advisory Board.

Since 2010, Valerie A. Hoffman has provided contracted communications & branding support to the Town of Lake Lure through her firm, WriterWorks Communication Strategies.