Dobson takes on water 101

First Posted: 5/13/2009

DOBSON The town of Dobson participated in a community education workshop presented by representatives from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wednesday night to learn some water partnerships 101.
Dobson, which has inter-local water partnerships with both Surry County and Mount Airy, listened to a presentation by representatives from the School of Government about how to handle and strengthen existing water partnerships with local municipalities.
UNC representatives Lydian Altman and Jeff Hughes talked with the group about how to recognize individual motivations for undertaking planning efforts, described basic information and terminology about water systems and demonstrated how to outline decisions, issues and processes that lie ahead in water planning.
The workshop was the result of prior discussions with representatives of the Golden LEAF Foundation, which allocated $2 million to Surry County to help the communities. From a series of public meetings that have been held during the past several months, local officials with the help of Golden LEAF narrowed the community projects education and water and sewer line extension were at the top of the list.
Altman and Hughes are visiting each municipality to help determine its concerns about existing water partnerships and how to handle them. Dobson was the pairs first of several meetings to follow.
Altman stressed that the Dobson board focus on interest, not positions, meaning it should have a clear understanding its goals and purposes.
You want to advocate your interest in what you want to happen and ask others, she said.
She also asked the group to identify the crossroads the community faces in reference to water.
Lynn Burcham, the town manager, said that Dobson has nearly reached its capacity for water supply and is in need of water from municipalities who have excess to sell. She also mentioned that the town experienced several calls weekly from citizens complaining about their wells being dry or their water being contaminated.
Mayor Ricky Draughn echoed Burchams comments.
Other (water) systems have an abundance (and) are not in need (and) we have a need, but that could change tomorrow, he said.
Commissioner Gerri Martn said she wanted the water partnerships to run smoothly, and wanted to make sure the board wasnt doing anything to adversely affect its constituency.
Altman said often the greatest concern in water partnerships is the impact on existing customers.
The purpose of the workshop wasnt to take any specific action on existing agreements, but to engage the board about evaluating its water agreements and partnerships to strengthen them.
The board members didnt pinpoint concerns with existing agreements, but they did say it would be worth exploring whether theres a better model of agreement to make it easier to run lines to people who need water.
We could have a better agreement with clearer cut rules that is more streamlined, Draughn said.
We have not found a community that couldnt improve its partnership, said Hughes, one of the UNC representatives.
Commissioner Martn suggested soliciting the expertise of Altman and Hughes to map out pros and cons in their agreements.
The pair said it could give the board techniques for evaluating different circumstances in order to make informed decisions regarding partnerships.
The board went into closed session prior to the workshop and didnt announce any action. Following the workshop, the board returned to closed session. There was no action taken.
The boards next regular meeting is May 28 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room and will be followed by a budget workshop.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

comments powered by Disqus