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Water System Merger Bill Advances

RALEIGH — Legislation designed to allow two public water systems in Pamlico County to merge is expected to pass next week after approval Thursday by a Senate committee.

Norm Sanderson

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee gave its approval to Senate Bill 434 that would require the merger of the Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District, which serves about 3,000 customers in Pamlico County, and the West Bay River system, which serves about 300 customers.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for review. It would take effect on Oct. 1 of this year.

Although the legislation is narrowly tailored to apply to only the two districts, more extensive legislation to facilitate mergers and consolidations among dozens of financially troubled water and wastewater systems is also moving in the Senate.

Next week, the Finance Committee is expected to modify that legislation, Senate Bill 536, over objections to a proposed $1 per month fee that would be collected from customers statewide to help pay for a growing backlog of maintenance and upgrades needed for systems that are no longer financially sustainable. Those costs have proved to be a barrier to mergers with nearby larger systems or consolidating smaller systems into a more financially viable entity.

About the Author

Kirk Ross

Kirk Ross is a longtime North Carolina journalist based in the Triangle. In addition to Coastal Review Online, he covers the legislature and state government for Carolina Public Press and The Washington Post. He can be reached at kirkrossreport@gmail.com.