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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC, OWASA Negotiate, Accept Availability Fee

The agreement comes after several months of discussion and formalizes a conceptual agreement reached last September.

Deputy for Facilities Services Jim Mergner explained the significance of service availability fees.

"Availability is a one-time charge -- the amount the University will pay for connecting to the system," he said. "If we build a new facility, it has a one-time connecting fee."

Under the previous deal, UNC was exempted from paying for future connections to OWASA's main sewage and water system. The new agreement is meant to address the future water needs of a rapidly expanding UNC main campus.

Currently, UNC's main campus consists of 13.7 million square feet of existing and approved building floor area. The main campus is projected to reach 14.8 million square feet within the next few years.

Mergner said the new deal will cost UNC substantially more than the one established in 1977.

"There is no question that there is an additional cost to the University," he said. "It's an additional cost to our development."

Mergner said OWASA originally suggested the program to UNC officials.

"The subject was brought up by OWASA," he said. "They were concerned about the specifics of the old sales agreements."

Officials said that with the new deal, both OWASA and UNC can look forward to the stability that will result from the agreement. UNC officials can continue to plan for expansion with full knowledge of what it will be charged for connecting to OWASA's system in its new facilities.

Mergner said, "Resolving this and putting it behind us is good for everyone involved."

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