July 15, 2008

Herring Appointed to 2nd Term on SWIC: State Water Infrastructure Commission Tasked With Advising Governor and Legislature

By David Anderson, The Free Press, Kinston, N.C.

Jul. 15--Harold Herring will continue to do his part in advising state government on handling issues with local water systems as he begins his second term on the State Water Infrastructure Commission.

Gov. Mike Easley recently re-appointed Herring to the Commission, on which he has served since 2006.

"It's been great, very informative, and I guess a challenge, to find these avenues for grants and working with the General Assembly to put this kind of funding into their annual budget," Herring said Monday about his experience.

The 13-member Commission was established in 2005 to advise the governor and General Assembly on how best to fund local water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects, and how to develop "best practices" for managing the state's water resources, said SWIC staffer Jean Klein.

Its membership includes representatives of a variety of academic, business and government fields. Each member serves a two-year term and is unpaid.

Klein said the SWIC does not have an annual budget, but it did receive $250,000 from the state last year. It will cover two years of staffing costs and contracting research on specific projects.

"I think his experience with the Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority and his financial background have both been helpful," she said of Herring on Monday.

Herring was Kinston's water resources manager from 1986-2003, and currently serves as executive director of NRWASA. He is also past president of the Lenoir County Jaycees and the Lenoir County Fair Association.

Dudley Watts, past chairman of SWIC, explained that communities in Forsyth, Orange and Granville counties have also developed regional water cooperatives similar to NRWASA. As costs of fuel and construction materials rises, Watts expects that more local water systems in North Carolina will do the same.

"WASA is viewed as an indicator of where things might have to go financially," Watts said. "Harold provided a lot of insight into that."

Herring said forming a regional cooperative makes it easier to obtain state and federal grants. He and his fellow Commission members have been lobbying the legislature to set aside grant funds so other communities can upgrade their infrastructure and avoid the alternative of borrowing money for those projects.

Herring explained that if communities reduce the amount of debt they take on, then their customers' rates will be much lower.

"Still push forward to find avenues for more grants so the burdens of these loans are not put on (communities)," Herring said when asked what he wanted to accomplish in his second term.

David Anderson can be reached at (252) 559-1077 or [email protected]

SWIC members come from the following sources:

One appointed by governor

One appointed by Senate president pro tempore

One appointed by House speaker

One appointed by North Carolina State University chancellor

One appointment by American Council of Engineering Companies

One appointment by N.C. Water Resources Research Institute

State secretary of Commerce

State secretary of Environment and Natural Resources

President of Rural Economic Development Center

Executive director, Clean Water Management Trust Fund

Executive director, N.C. League of Municipalities

Executive director, Association of County Commissioners

Director, Local Government Commission or employee of State Treasurer's Office


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