Lucama preps for water repairs: Well work starts in September, water plant in October

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LUCAMA — Contractors have agreed to start dates in September and October for rehabilitation work on Lucama’s ailing drinking water system.

Rich Moore, an engineer from McDavid Associates, led the pre-construction conference with officials from Lucama, the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, the N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure and two contractors Friday at Lucama Town Hall.

The project to improve Lucama’s drinking water with a rehabilitation of Well No. 3 and the town’s water treatment plant has been given a “Notice to Proceed” from the state.

A.C. Schultes of Carolina, the contractor handling the well rehabilitation, agreed to a start date of Sept. 3, which is the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Moore said the company will be given 120 days to do its work. That puts the end date at Jan. 6.

“I’ll be done long before that. If I’m here that long, I’m in trouble,” said Bill Jefferys, president and general manager of A.C. Schultes of Carolina.

Jefferys inspected Well No. 3 with Chris Hare, Lucama water and sewer officer in charge, after the meeting.

“We put 120 days in the construction period,” Moore said. “The longer they work, the less money that they are doing in terms of production. If they are seeing that they are here that long, they are having a problem.”

Michelle Eberhart of Willow Spring-based Eberhart Construction signed the contract documents relative to the water treatment plant rehabilitation.

Moore said he had spoken with Robert Eberhart, who will be doing the work.

“They anticipate being able to begin work on those filters on Oct. 14 with the objective of having the work being completed as soon as possible with the prescribed 120 days, which they don’t think will be required,” Moore said. “ That will push the contract completion date to February 2020, but Robert’s objective is to get that done this calendar year.”

Moore explained that rehabbing the water treatment plant involves the replacement of existing filters.

“It’s not like they are going to come in and everything is going to be done, particularly the filter media,” Moore said. “You are going to have to do it one at a time to keep the system operational all the time so that the town’s constantly in supply. They will work to get one filter done, get the media replaced, get it tested to make sure that it is safe to drink and operate. We have to certify that partially back to the state. Once we get the bacteria results back from the state, they will then put that filter back on line and then start the process again with the next one until they are all done. It will be little shots of work instead of going at it over and over and over.”

The town’s plant has a four-filter system. Each one will have to be changed, tested and put back on line individually.

Eric G. Karis, project manager with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Infrastructure, said he will be managing the project from this point forward until it’s completed.

“I appreciate everyone’s work to get to this point,” Karis said.

Lucama Commissioner Patricia Uzzell, who is mayor pro-tem, was present for the pre-construction meeting.

“It’s been a long journey, but this is a great day,” Uzzell said. “I am very encouraged for the citizens of Lucama. That’s the No. 1 thing. This is a great day for the citizens of Lucama. I just want to thank the citizens of Lucama for being patient. It has been a long go for them. There could have been uproars and everything, but I want to thank the citizens of Lucama for believing in a system that actually has come through for them.”

The well rehabilitation contract of $77,241 and the water treatment rehabilitation contract of $215,000 are being paid for by a $488.990 loan/grant from the N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure approved on Aug. 1, 2017.

Moore has been working with Lucama ever since that time to complete the engineering, bid and design packages and assist the town.

For years, Lucama residents have been intermittently affected by iron and manganese-tainted water that has, at times, come out of their spigots in a dark brown color.

The town has a pending $2.2 million grant from the N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure to replace 2,728 linear feet of aging galvanized distribution line and make improvements to water system infrastructure.

According to Teresa Whitehead, town administrator, there are currently 475 water customers who would be affected.

“We look forward to you all getting started,” Moore told the contractors.