The Highlands Public Works Department presented its master plan to the board of commissioners during its April 16 meeting. The master planning document is required by the state to be eligible for future state revolving loan projects and grants, Public Works Director Lamar Nix said.
“We had the opportunity to get this master water plan done through a grant,” Nix said by phone on Tuesday. “As part of the grant process, we have to take our developed master plan to our governing board and present it, which we did last Thursday and then prepare an executive summary of the board’s response and return it.”
Nix said the master plan provides a roadmap for future town water projects.
“For example, the new water tank up on Satulah Road was part of a previous master water plan,” he said. “And another new water tank was part of this master plan for some time down the road.”
The master plan proves a future need in the grant application process, Nix said.
“Every year you work to improve your infrastructure,” he said. “Preventive maintenance helps with system improvements each year. The best thing about it is there is no guns pointed at our heads and no failures.
Every year you do a little bit to your infrastructure, which helps avoid the big projects we’d have if we did nothing.”
“If we don’t act continually, we open ourselves to larger failures that would interrupt service or create obstructions to the flow of life here.”
Commissioner Marc Hehn, a 30-plus year water and sewer department manager, is no stranger to preparing master plans, having prepared one every five years of his career. Hehn said the town’s water and sewer network is in pretty good shape.
Hehn added that he has some technical questions regarding the master plan, but he supported it overall.
“Gradual renewal of the components at our existing water treatment plant will insure we minimize the cost to our rate payers,” he said. “I am not troubled that some parts of our treatment plant are 50 years old. During my career, I used a water plant that some parts of were over 100 years old.”
Nix said the town’s April paving projects should be completed this week.
“We should be done paving Satulah Road on Wednesday,” he said. “After we finish with Satulah Road we have some paving to do on Split Tail Row following an earlier water project we finished there.”
With a paving of Bowery Road, the town’s public works department will be finished for this fiscal year.
“We’ll wait until the budget is set for the next fiscal year is approved and then begin again,” Nix said.