Chatham County needs a sustainable strategy for wastewater management

Liz Rolison
Posted 4/28/21

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of StopChathamNorth, an advocacy group representing concerned residents of the Briar Chapel community. We have been following your series of articles …

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Chatham County needs a sustainable strategy for wastewater management

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Posted

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of StopChathamNorth, an advocacy group representing concerned residents of the Briar Chapel community. We have been following your series of articles investigating Chatham County’s water and sewer infrastructure and appreciate that you are raising awareness across your readership. We agree that there is not currently a long-term solution for regional wastewater in NE Chatham County.

Since 2016, there have been 32 reported sewage spills in Briar Chapel. These sewage spills have totaled more than 87,000 gallons with over 72,000 gallons having spilled directly into Pokeberry Creek (tributary of the Haw River and Jordan Lake). For these spills and other issues, ONSWC has been issued 21 Notices of Violation (NOVs).

Chatham County planned for the Briar Chapel wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to become a regional WW system for NE Chatham County; however, the placement of the facility in the midst of a densely populated community with homes and amenities surrounding the WWTP combined with the elevated location of the plant and persistent infrastructure issues makes this a poor choice for regionalization.

Briar Chapel’s WW system is one of ten in NE Chatham County, but it’s not the only privately-owned WWTP having serious problems.

• Fearrington Village’s system is reaching end of life. The system has 23 NOVs for not meeting nutrient requirements for their discharge into Bush Creek.

• Carolina Meadow’s WWTP is not meeting nutrient requirements for their discharge into Morgan Creek.

• Governor’s Club’s WWTP is reaching end of life for portions of their plant.

• North Chatham Village’s WWTP has reached maximum capacity. They’ve had numerous NOVs for exceeding nutrient limits for their discharge and the plant is nearing end of life.

There are also numerous smaller, older neighborhoods in NE Chatham County using septic systems which are starting to age out and need to be replaced.

The current strategy of having developers provide their communities WW treatment systems isn’t working. Developers will do what’s necessary to get their communities built, then they will sell the plant and walk away. They are not vested for the long term. The Chatham County residents and our environment suffer the consequences. We need to adopt a more sustainable strategy for wastewater management in NE Chatham County.

We are not asking Chatham County to purchase our privately-owned community-based WW systems. We are asking our county to provide the leadership to launch a Study Commission to investigate and propose options for a long-term solution. We believe a Public/Private partnership could be the way forward.

Liz Rolison
Chapel Hill

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