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Holden Beach water lines have more than a few good years left

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By Brian Slattery

HOLDEN BEACH — Town officials received good news about the lifespan of water pipes on the island and the potential cost of their upkeep.

Shane Lippard of Right Angle Engineering provided commissioners with the results of a water system study at the July 8 town meeting.

“We sent three pieces of pipe off for an evaluation of their condition because the manufacturer’s warranty was for 36 years, and we have reached that point,” Commissioner Dennis Harrington said.

The town board requested the study because of concern the town’s pipes were reaching the end of their life expectancy.

Harrington said the town was concerned that to replace the pipes would cost $6 million.

At a town meeting Feb. 11, Harrington said the board heard a presentation that proposed the town take out a $6 million loan to start replacing water lines on the island.

Harrington said at the February meeting it would be in the town’s best interest to start building a reserve to handle the situation so the Holden Beach would not have to borrow money and raise taxes to cover the expenditures.

Mayor Pro Tem Ken Kyser asked if there are restrictions on how much the town can have in reserve.

Town Manager David Hewett said to establish a capital reserve fund there had to be a specific project, timeframe and price tag associated with it.

Town officials decided at the time to have the pipe testing performed so the town would have that information before making any reserve fund decisions.

But Harrington said the town will need to do something at some point.

So it had samples taken from the town’s main pipes to determine when they might be due for replacement.

Lippard provided good news, that the town was more than a decade away from any major replacement needs.

“The results showed various ages of life expectancy for the pipes,” Harrington said.

“The shortest life (span) would still last another 20 years. The second shortest was 60 years and the third they said could last 100 plus years.”

Harrington added they have to consider factors that affect the pipes, such as the soil they are buried in or any stresses or impact on the pipes from their location.

Harrington said they sampled the town’s most active and biggest pipes.

“We took the (samples) from three different areas to compare on to another,” Commissioner Sheila Young added.

The pipes were installed in 1978, she said.

Harrington said the town can now begin preparing for pipe repairs or upgrades without going millions of dollars into debt.

“Now the town can look at building a reserve, a nominal (amount) to the end user, so we do not have to borrow (money),” he said.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.