A $4.1 million upgrade to Pasquotank’s reverse-osmosis water treatment plant is among 10 priority needs outlined by the county water department earlier this week.

David Smithson, the water department’s superintendent, presented commissioners a preview of those priorities on Monday. The 10 recommendations, which would cost a total of $14.8 million, were compiled from a 20-year master plan presented to the board in September.

The $4.1 million RO plant upgrade became necessary after the county agreed in October to pay the South Mills Water Association $1.4 million for the Camden-based utility’s share of about 1,000 water customers in Newland. Those new customers will be served by Pasquotank’s RO plant, which is located on Foreman Bundy Road.

To meet the anticipated increase in demand, the RO plant will need to expand its production from 2 million gallons per day to 3 million gallons per day, Smithson said.

Smithson recommended the board include the necessary funding for the upgrade in the county’s 2021-22 fiscal-year budget that takes effect in July. He also recommended the county spend $7.3 million to upgrade the filtration system at the Weeksville water plant. However, commissioners won’t have to decide on that project until July 2024.

If commissioners agree to the upgrade, the project will include installing a new filtration procedure known as nano membrane filtration technology. The new system would make water produced in Weeksville interchangeable with water produced at the RO plant, Smithson said.

Smithson also recommends spending $1.7 million on 5,000 new residential water meters that would allow the water department to read the meters remotely. He recommended the board include funding for the meters in next year’s fiscal-year budget.

Smithson’s presentation also recommends changing the water department’s name from Pasquotank County Water System to Pasquotank County Utilities Department.

Another recommendation is to increase the department’s number of full-time workers from 22 to 24. Smithson said his staff recommends moving the department’s one part-time worker to full time and hiring one additional full-time water technician. Their salaries would range from $28,904 to $40,363, based on experience, he said. Smithson recommended commissioners also act on that request in next year’s budget.

In September, the Wilson-based water and sewer consultant Green Engineering presented its master plan to the Pasquotank Water Committee. The firm’s 20-year assessment includes a total of $49 million in recommended upgrades and improvements to the county’s water and sewer infrastructure.

One recommendation by Green Engineering that did not make Smithson’s list of immediate needs is a proposed new $19 million wastewater treatment plant.