Water is an essential element of life. A human being can survive for a month or more without solid food, but after about three days we all die without clean water. Randolph County needs a countywide water system, especially on the eastern side of the county. It is nothing short of criminal that today, well over a decade after the completion of Randleman Lake, there are still people in this county without access to a reliable supply of clean drinking water.
County and municipal leaders have long been aware of a need for a reliable supply of water to several communities on this side of the county. Plans have been floated several times, including last year, to extend a distribution main from Ramseur up NC Highway 49 to serve an area where existing water wells are known to be contaminated. Each time, those with the power to push such a project to completion have either lost interest or been too busy to see it through. It seems that despite so much lip service to the contrary, our leaders, past and present, do not really give a damn about those people.
The town of Ramseur owns a water treatment plant and reservoir with enough capacity to serve at least two or three times as many customers as it does today. More customers mean more revenue flowing through the system, which in turn means more available funds for plant maintenance and line replacement, not to mention a few more good jobs. A state inspection of Ramseur’s water treatment plant (WTP) earlier this year revealed a long list of issues, some dating back to at least 2017, which if not addressed could lead to catastrophic events that might leave the town and all of its water customers without potable water.
Instead of actively seeking ways to expand its customer base after Ramtex, once the town’s biggest water consumer, left town, Ramseur chose to simply let things stagnate. For a while, water plant operations were contracted to Suez, and during that time maintenance was almost nonexistent. What was done amounted to jerry-rigged, piecemeal repairs made only when they could no longer be ignored. Suez is gone now, but that doesn’t change the facts on the ground. Ramseur’s water plant and distribution infrastructure need a major influx of cash to bring the system up to date, and Ramseur leadership has, over the years, shown itself unwilling or unable to properly manage its water system. Perhaps there’s another, better option.
Fifty odd years ago our neighbors to the west in Davidson County chose to create an independent non-profit water company, Davidson Water. Today that system is among the largest in the nation and even serves some of our neighbors on the west side of Randolph County. There is no valid reason why something similar could not be established here. None. All that is needed is the will to do so and pressure on elected officials to make it a priority.
A strong case exists for the creation of an independent, non-profit water company to serve communities up and down the east side of Randolph County. Such an entity could lease or purchase the existing Ramseur WTP and expand service to most of this side of the county within just a few years. Ramseur could retain their wastewater treatment system and the revenue it generates, but would no longer be burdened by the maintenance costs of the WTP.
The availability of a clean reliable water source is key to economic growth anywhere. The creation of an “Eastern Randolph Water Company” would lead to an economic development boom that would benefit everyone on this side of our county. The time is right for a group of visionary leaders to come together and study the possibilities of such a project. Are you one of those leaders?