CCS exploring new wastewater possibilities for Silk Hope School

Posted 9/20/19

SILK HOPE — Water, wastewater and what to do with them is a regular issue for municipal governments across the country.

But did you know that Chatham County Schools is also in the wastewater …

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CCS exploring new wastewater possibilities for Silk Hope School

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Posted

SILK HOPE — Water, wastewater and what to do with them is a regular issue for municipal governments across the country.

But did you know that Chatham County Schools is also in the wastewater business?

Silk Hope School is a good example. Located nearly six miles from the Siler City Wastewater Treatment Plant, the school has had its own wastewater system for years. But district officials are looking to make a change, and it could cost up to $3 million.

The project was put at the end of the district’s next Capital Improvements Plan, a document outlining the major capital projects the district wants to undertake, for 2021-2027. The CIP is an annual document compiled and given to the Chatham County Manager’s office for consideration in the county’s budgets.

The project had been placed on prior CIPs to construct a fully on-site wastewater system. For years, according to district Chief Operating Officer Chris Blice, the school has had a two-part system, with one part on campus and another part on private property. Replacing the current system to bring it all on-site had been discussed, but instead, officials said, they want to study the possibility of connecting the school to the Town of Siler City’s wastewater system.

Blice said the available land at Silk Hope for a new system is “kind of tight,” and the soil there isn’t suitable for any additional wastewater capacity.

“One thing with schools is, sometimes they blossom,” he said. “You want to be able to deal with that without having to buy new land.”

Connecting the school to Siler City’s system would “absolutely” be more expensive than simply renovating or relocating parts of the current system, but officials think it’s the better option.

“This actually, for us, would be a much better situation,” he said.

Blice said that “a number” of county schools still have their own wastewater systems.

“In the past, when schools were built, there really was very little wastewater infrastructure,” he said. “That’s typical in a lot of counties, particularly rural types of place. You just don’t have sewer, and you generally don’t have water.”

An appraisal of the project estimated the cost at $3 million with the wastewater lines complete by the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. Randy Drumheller, the district’s director of maintenance and construction, says estimates to revamp the current system say it would cost around $300,000, but he agreed with Blice about that solution’s flaws.

“The problem with it is that it is still an on-site system and the school system is still in the wastewater business,” Drumheller said. “The other issue about Silk Hope School is that it’s a limited acreage school.”

The Chatham County Board of Education approved last week spending $20,000 for a feasibility study on the project.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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