For two years, the City of Sanford, the Town of Fuquay-Varina, the Town of Holly Springs and the Town of Pittsboro have been in discussions regarding a regional partnership to meet each municipality's water needs now and into the future.
At the July 18, 2023, Sanford City Council meeting, the City of Sanford became the third party to approve an interlocal agreement that formalizes this partnership. The Town of Pittsboro will consider the agreement at their July 24, 2023, meeting.
Through this agreement, each of the partners will share the cost of expanding the City’s water filtration facility from 12 million gallons per day (MGD) to 30 and Sanford will become a major water supplier for the Central Carolina region.
Sustainable, Fair Access that Benefits All
Currently, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs purchase water from neighboring systems. Pittsboro operates its own water treatment plant, but will soon be at or near its treatment capacity.
For Sanford, these dynamic partnerships spread the capital costs and accomplish economies of scale while also diversifying the system’s customer base. The towns recognized they needed the partnership to meet their growth needs and create redundancy in their water supply.
Through the agreement, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Pittsboro will pay a proportional share of the expansion and operation costs based on the amount of treatment capacity reserved for them. The partners will own their share of the expansion. Sanford will manage the facility, maintain sole authority over its operation, and maintain an ownership stake.
The agreement outlines how the parties will fund the expansion, what mechanisms and processes will be followed to protect each community and its access to water, and other details that ensure the agreement is fair to each of participating municipalities – such as, what happens if a participant exceeds its capacity or wants to divest of its share.
The facility expansion will accomplish more than just increased capacity for each of the partners. The expansion will also provide the City with the advanced treatment needed to remove many emerging contaminants. An improved process will benefit all water customers connected to the system.
Regionalism as Major Economic Development Engine
Sanford’s position as a regional water and wastewater provider is encouraged and incentivized by the state, notes outside counsel for the City of Sanford DeWitt “Mac” McCarley. “The state wants local governments to regionalize and Sanford is a leader in that. It has made Sanford a major economic development engine for the region,” he says.
The expanded facility will continue to benefit Sanford’s residents as industries are recruited to the region. “Sanford is very likely to have excess capacity and to be in the position to lease that capacity to industry or other communities,” McCarley points out.
“This arrangement is a win-win for our region,” says Mayor Rebecca Wyhof Salmon. “As we look at managing growth for our community, this agreement is an opportunity to use good fiscal stewardship and smart planning to build on regional partnerships to not only meet our infrastructure needs but to also reduce some of the cost burden to our water users,” she says.
Construction is slated to begin in 2024 and finish mid-2027.