Feb 26, 2020

North Carolina Residents Voice Concerns Against Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

A group of North Carolina residents are opposing the expansion of Briar Chapel Wastewater Treatment Plant

wastewater pollution

A group of Briar Chapel, North Carolina residents are working to oppose the ownership transfer that will expand Briar Chapel Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The group cites concerns over unpleasant odors, spraying outside of permitted spray areas, raw sewage leaks and contamination of waterways as a result of the management by Envirolink, who operates the plant. 

Community basketball and pickleball courts sit downhill from the uncovered retention pond, reported the Daily Tar Heel. Organic waste from local ducks and geese contributes to the build up of hydrogen sulfide in the pond and irrigation systems.

Amongst other issues cited are an exposed force main pipe pumps wastewater toward the plant and spray heads used by the irrigation system staggered throughout the neighborhood.

Residents have encountered raw sewage in the neighborhood due to malfunctions in the force main pipe, according to the Daily Tar Heel

The plant’s owner, Old North State Water Company, filed applications to the North Carolina Utilities Commission in fall 2019 to transfer ownership of its water assets to Old North State Water Company-Chatham North (ONSWC). ONSWC acquired the wastewater treatment plant in 2015. 

“What they want to do is combine the two systems and have a regional wastewater treatment plant in the Briar Chapel,” said Bill Grantmyre, an attorney for NCUC Public Staff. “They would pump all the collected wastewater from Fearrington Village to the Briar Chapel treatment plant and have it treated there, and then also either spray it on the Briar Chapel reclaimed water spray fields or deposit it into the tributary of Jordan Lake under the (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) discharge permit that’s been issued to Fearrington Utilities that would be transferred to Chatham North.” 

Under the NPDES permit, the Fearrington Village facility is allowed to discharge 500,000 gallons per day of treated water into a tributary of Jordan Lake. 

With the acquisition of the Fearrington Village assets, ONSWC-Chatham North would be able to utilize the permit to minimize the amount of water sprayed in Briar Chapel and discharge from Fearrington Village instead. 

Residents are concerned about nutrient levels continuing to increase going into that Haw River watershed, which could lead to algal blooms. Michael Myers, the president of ONSWC-Chatham North and Envirolink, said measures would be taken to reduce odors in the meantime

A public hearing scheduled for Jan. 22 regarding the transfer of ownership of facilities was canceled by the utilities commission. Grantmyre said the commission Public Staff requested for it to be rescheduled 150 days later, allowing time for Envirolink to resolve its issues and for the concerned residents to gather information needed to make their case, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

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