Town officials hope the results of a state-financed study of the town water system will give them a competitive edge when they return to the state well to seek money for recommended upgrades.

The town will use a $10,000 state grant and $5,000 of its own money to pay for the comprehensive study of its nearly 80-year-old water system.

"We have a system that needs work," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr."We may have to redo some of our lines, and we have to consider our ability to provide fire protection."

The mayor said the study willdetail necessary improvements and give the town an advantage in any future grant applications to the state Community Development Block Grant Program.

"The study will make the town more competitive in future applications," said Steven C. Horn, county planner.

Jones called the town "water-rich" and said the population of 966 has no water problems now. Neither would next year's planned annexation of 29 residences, currently hooked into a private water source, strain the the one-well system.

"We can pump about 1 million gallons a day now," said the mayor. "We only use about 150,000 gallons daily."

The state approved the grant, which includes a 50 percent match from the town, in July. With no money budgeted for the project, the Town Council voted Monday to transfer its share of $5,000 from its streets and highways department.

With the grant, the town will hire consultants to check existing lines for deterioration and make recommendations to bring the system up to 1991 standards. Results must be forwarded to the state by April 1992.

"We installed a water system about 1913 and have made occasional improvements since," said Town Attorney John T. Maguire II.

Horn called the town's 4-inch water mains antiquated, saying most towns now use 8-inch pipes.

In keeping with state requirements for a competitive bidding process, the town will advertisefor bids. Maguire recommended a prebid conference with interested consultants at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 11 in Town Hall.

Consultants will be asked to inventory the existing system, noting any history of problemsand detailing "any potential health hazards due to existing substandard water system conditions," said Horn.

Consultants also should include the cost of improvements and consider how the environmental characteristics of the area might affect improvement and expansion.

"We want consultants to look at what's in place now and make recommendations," said Maguire. "We also need to prioritize what has to be done."

Bids will be due by noon Oct. 18 to give the council a few days to review them before the Oct. 21 session. The council could vote to award the contract at that meeting, said Maguire.

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