Community partnerships seemed to be the highlight of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority's annual update to the Board of Orange County Commissioners at a Feb. 19 meeting.
The main speaker, OWASA secretary Raymond DuBose, presented OWASA's improvement plans for the upcoming year. One change is the implementation of quarterly check-in meetings between the members of the BOCC and the appointees of the OWASA board. DuBose said this was designed to create greater communication between OWASA and the community it serves.
OWASA's main system improvement for the upcoming year is a new water main assessment and prioritization model. OWASA did not directly address the large-scale water emergency that happened in Chapel Hill in 2017, nor the water main break that happened in November of 2018, but the new assessment system was originally suggested in the wake of the November event.
Each year, OWASA invests about $20 million in capital improvement projects — upgrading pipes, pumps, equipment and more — to increase system resiliency. Nearly 50 percent of customer payments fund these projects, according to Linda Low, OWASA’s communications and community relations officer. These projects would fall under the system improvement plan.
OWASA also announced at the meeting that the sewer construction in the historic Rogers Road area is now expected to be complete by the end of April 2019. Construction began in September 2017, but OWASA encountered a lot of dense rock that affected the timeline of construction, according to DuBose.