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County hires engineer to guide sewer plant permit application

Citing a tight timeline to win a state permit for a wastewater treatment plant, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners moved quickly on Wednesday to select a local engineering firm to guide a permit application through numerous regulatory hoops.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to hire Hendersonville-based WGLA Engineering and two subcontractors — a wastewater treatment specialist and environmental engineering firm — to submit the application to the state Department of Environmental Quality for permission to build a wastewater treatment plant on Clear Creek.

County Engineer Marcus Jones said the county had publicized a request for qualifications on March 4 and received one response by the Tuesday deadline, from WGLA, the firm that had already done substantial preliminary work on the feasibility of an Edneyville sewer system. The county contacted local engineering firms and posted the job on an American Rescue Plan hub "that had hundreds of engineering firms on it," Jones said. Estimated cost of the permitting work is $225,000.

The county has a deadline of Dec. 31, 2023, to commit a $12.7 million state grant to the Edneyville-Fruitland sewer system project.

"We're on track but we are tight," Jones said.

Besides the state grant, the county also plans to use American Rescue Plan money and cash left over from the Edneyville Elementary School construction to fund the $21 million sewer system.

Lapsley, who sold his WGLA firm (William G. Lapsley & Associates) to three other civil engineers when he retired, recused himself from the discussion and vote "because I have a family member who's part of this submittal," he said.