Town engineer: Pittsboro in need of sewer upgrade

Posted 3/29/19

PITTSBORO — Capacity of the wastewater treatment plant and the Town of Pittsboro’s future needs have been a subject of discussion in the town of Pittsboro for many years.

The town’s small …

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Town engineer: Pittsboro in need of sewer upgrade

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PITTSBORO — Capacity of the wastewater treatment plant and the Town of Pittsboro’s future needs have been a subject of discussion in the town of Pittsboro for many years.

The town’s small wastewater treatment plant is nearing its capacity if all projects with allocations were to request permits, according to statements made by the town’s engineer, Elizabeth Goodson, during a March town board meeting.

“The town needs more capacity because property owners are seeking to build businesses and homes in Pittsboro and the town lacks the capacity at its wastewater treatment plant to treat the wastewater that is created by the proposed businesses and homes,” Pittsboro’s town manager, Bryan Gruesbeck said. “Obviously, if the Town continues to lack the capacity at its wastewater treatment plant, it will continue to be limited in its ability to allow the businesses and home to be built.”

For that reason, the town is working on a project to construct a Force Main, a pipeline that will carry wastewater from Pittsboro to Sanford’s Big Buffalo Wastewater Treatment Plant. Pittsboro’s Board of Commissioners selected the Force Main option in 2015, however the concept was initially discussed between Sanford and Pittsboro as far back as 2011 or earlier, according to Gruesbeck. Prior to that decision, the Board reviewed a variety of options including expanding the current wastewater treatment site.

“The current alternative was selected by the Board because it was lower in initial cost by approximately $4 million dollars, as well as future phase costs (approximately $13 million),” Gruesbeck said. “Additionally, expanding the existing wastewater treatment plant would not satisfy the State’s requirements to reduce nitrogen load limits as part of the Jordan Lake Rules which seeks to reduce the discharge of regulated chemicals and compounds into Jordan Lake.”

Gruesbeck noted that expansion at the site could also create a burden on the residents nearby.

“Expanding the existing wastewater treatment plant would have required additional adjacent property located in close proximity to residential neighborhoods,” he said. “More intensive treatment steps for the required nitrogen reductions would have been costly as well as more unpleasant (e.g., more odor) for the wastewater treatment plant’s residential neighbors.”

The project, which would nearly triple Pittsboro’s wastewater capacity from 750,000 gallons a day (.75 MGD) to 2.75 million gallons a day, is estimate to cost about $19,790,000. In February of 2016, the town received notice that the Force Main project had been approved for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Infrastructure Division’s for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. This allows the town to secure a low-interest loan from the fund the project.

The letter sent to the town provides a table of milestones the town must meet to secure the loan. Those dates included a required execution of a construction contract by February of 2018. According to Gruesbeck, the town is currently waiting for the State to allow the Town to begin the bidding process. Requests to both Gruesbeck and N.C. DEQ with respect to the milestones and current requirements for the loan program were not answered in time for this article to go to print.

Last December, the town entered into an agreement with Chatham Park regarding financial support and capacity reservations from the Force Main project. Chatham Park agreed to pay 62.5 percent of the of the cost for the project, including any loan indebtedness as well as 62.5 percent of the capacity fee owed to Sanford’s Big Buffalo Wastewater Treatment Plant. Chatham Park also agreed to provide collateral for the indebtedness and capacity fee. In exchange, the development would reserve up to 1.25 million gallons a day of the capacity. Requests to the town for estimates of the Chatham Park investment for the Force Main project were not responded to by press time.

In the mean time, Chatham Park is constructing a wastewater reclamation plant on the east-side of town. A reclamation plant converts wastewater into water that can be reused for other purposes. These include irrigation of gardens or agricultural fields and can also be used for industrial purposes. The Pittsboro wastewater treatment plant currently sends about 300,000 gallons of reuse water a day for 3M to use in its manufacturing facility south of town.

The reclamation plant, which should be online within a year, will produce about 250,000 gallons per day of treatment while the Sanford Force Main is under construction, according to Gruesbeck. After construction, the facility will convert back to full-time recycling of wastewater for re-use. Chatham Park has noted that the development will include “purple pipe,” the color used to indicate transport of re-use water, for uses of irrigation and industrial use in the development.


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