County commissioners have approved the drilling of one exploratory well in the Meadows community intended to provide a back up water source for the new community college and determin if a Meadows area water system could eventually be developed.
The decision came on a 3-2 vote Monday, with commissioners Jimmy Walker and James Booth voting nay, after a lengthy discussion on the project.
The county had initially planned on drilling two exploratory wells in the area after commissioners approved $30,000 for the project, but County Manager Rick Morris said the project had evolved to focus on only the one well.
The proposed well will be drilled on property owned by James and Hazel Bennett with the option to purchase 1.05 acres at the well location for $11,500 if the test well produces adequate water quality and flow.
Walker questioned where the money to purchase the property would come from it did, indeed, prove to be a successful well.
“If you want to use the $30,000 you approved for the drilling and purchase you could probably do one site with that,” said Morris, noting that the well would serve multiple purposes. “It is a risk reduction well, but there is no reason it could not be used if you did a water system later on.”
Board Chair Ronda Jones noted that the county would not have to purchase the property if the well did not produce results that would serve the county’s needs.
Walker also questioned if the county had ever drilled a backup or risk reduction well for any other school in the county.
“That would be the school system’s responsibility to do a back up well, not the county’s,” said Commissioner Leon Inman. “This is for the community college not a public school.”
Walker argued that there did not seem to be a need for the well currently.
“There is no known need for this well that has been identified, other than if it has water in it for some future growth or need,” he said. “The county will own a well and an acre of land but we really don’t have a need for it.”
“Unless you want to plan for the future and reduce risk at the college,” replied Morris.
Commissioner Ernest Lankford said there were already rumors that a new business was looking at the meadows area.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.