To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
On March 19th, our attorney filed our Petition to Intervene of StopChathamNorth on behalf of the Briar Chapel homeowners. This allows us to participate in the NCUC hearing rescheduled for Tuesday, June 16th on the following dockets:
· Docket W-1320, Sub 0 and Docket W-1300, Sub 55 – for authority to transfer the Briar Chapel subdivision wastewater system and franchise to ONSWC-Chatham North
· Docket W-1320, Sub 2 and Docket W-661, Sub 9 – for authority to transfer the Fearrington Village wastewater system and franchise to ONSWC-Chatham North
Mr. Allen continues to provide guidance to the SCN steering committee on outreach activities including meetings and correspondence with key organizations and individuals. Mr. Allen is also encouraging our Briar Chapel residents to continue their outreach activities, such as: documenting any meetings with Envirolink or ONSWC staff and participating in meetings/public hearings where it is important to demonstrate resident concern about expanding our WWTP into a regional facility. If you have information that you want to share with SCN’s legal counsel, please email your information to mailto:STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com.
On March 12th a sewage spill was reported near the bridge and walking trail by Great Ridge Parkway and Hill Creek. Envirolink did respond and worked on the area for several days. We understand that they did alert residents who live near the area, though since this involved a walking trail/bridge we would have liked to see an announcement from Envirolink to all Briar Chapel residents. We alerted NCDEQ, who did come to take a look since they were already scheduled to inspect some other potential issues.
On March 21st, a resident discovered a dead animal near a sewer manhole that was covered with lime behind the dog park on Great Ridge Parkway. We have no way of knowing what caused the animal to die, but the lime did look like it had been put down recently. We know this has been the site of a past sewage spill, but have not gotten any notification of a recent spill. We will monitor NCDEQ to see if Envirolink self-reports any incidents in this area.
Meetings of Note
A number of meetings have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Here’s updates on meetings we got in before the cancellations or handled over the phone.
· Diana Hales – Chatham County Commissioner – The SCN task force met with Diana Hales to discuss the proposed WWTP expansion and connection to Fearrington Village and other communities. She pointed out issues on the state level (affecting our county), NCDEQ and encouraged us to put more effort into targeting Newland, but didn’t accept responsibility for the part that Chatham County played in our situation. She did encourage us to have our attorney attend the Williams Corner public hearing. She also confirmed that Chatham County has no plans to pursue a public/private partnership for a regional WWTP in northern Chatham County.
· Scott Vinson – NCDEQ – Mr. Vinson has responded to numerous calls over the last few weeks and his staff has made at least two inspections in Briar Chapel over the last month. They appear committed to working to get ONSWC/Envirolink in compliance. That said, we have learned that NC regulations only require testing of the wastewater after treatment, not before spray irrigation (even if the treated wastewater sits in an open pond for 4-5 months).
Letters to Builders
Last week we sent letters to the builders in Briar Chapel pointing out how resolution of the WWTP issues was in all of our best interests and soliciting their support. We noted that at least one realtor serving Briar Chapel has begun to issue acknowledgement of disclosure notices to their clients.
Irrigation is Getting Ready to Start
On March 9th, ONSWC/Envirolink accidently started spray irrigation in some parts of the neighborhood. Homes on Wildwind Drive reported brown water being sprayed with a strong, foul odor. This video was taken by one of our homeowners documenting the situation.
We reported this to the NCDEQ and the Health Department. We were surprised to learn that NCDEQ does NOT require the WWTP operator to test the water prior to irrigation. It is tested when it is placed in the pond, but not before irrigation. Therefore, the water that was accidently sprayed on March 9th and will be used in the spray irrigation getting ready to start has been sitting in that pond (and pipes) for over five months. As we all know the ponds are frequented by ducks, geese and other animals contributing feces. We are very concerned about the quality of the water and we have been extremely outspoken about this to the NCDEQ and the health department. Please note, this water, by permit, cannot be sprayed on your home, on your sidewalks, and it cannot be sprayed during rain and high winds. If you note any of these conditions we encourage you to report it to Envirolink (252-235-4900), and StopChathamNorth (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please contact us at mailto:email@example.com if you experience any strong odors, discolored irrigation, oversaturation, pooling of irrigation water, runoff of irrigation water into storm drains, or sinkholes caused by the irrigation system. Video and pictures are helpful.
It’s time to Document our Concerns
Thank you for documenting your complaints to Envirolink. Since Feb 7th, we have been copied on 92 complaints, including: 75 complaints for odors, 4 construction complaints, 5 spray irrigation complaints, 5 general complaints and 3 spills. In comparison, Envirolink reported to the NC Utilities Commission that in 2019 there were only 10 odor complaints. While we regret that our residents are experiencing these issues, we believe this documentation will make a difference in showing that Briar Chapel residents have serious concerns that have been underreported.
It’s important to document any concerns or complaints that you personally experience with the Briar Chapel wastewater system (odor, runoff, spills, spray effluent pooling). Just a simple email works. If your concern can be documented with a picture (e.g., spills, spray effluent pooling), please attach any pictures you’ve taken of the incident to your email. We know that many of you have stopped calling because the response you have received from Envirolink in the past has been inadequate, but it is imperative that we continue this effort and build a record of your complaints. We also know that you experience some of these conditions over and over (i.e., odor) but again it is important to document these concerns each time you experience them.
When you have a complaint, Envirolink asks that you call their customer service number 252-235-4900. Please do so. To make sure your complaint is documented, we ask that you also email your concern to firstname.lastname@example.org and copy (cc) us at STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com. Your concern will only be tracked if you send the email.
Total contributions to date (as of 3/27/2020): $30,575.18
Total number of contributors: 325
We’d like to thank everyone who has already donated towards the cost of legal representation. These funds will be used to pay for our attorney’s representation at the June 16th hearing through to final decision. If you haven’t had a chance to make a donation yet, please consider doing this. We want people to contribute what they can, but a minimum of $100 will greatly help in paving the way toward funding for the longer term.
You can donate via PayPal by using this link:
If you prefer not to use PayPal:
You can write a check to: STOPCHATHAMNORTH and mail it to: STOPCHATHAMNORTH in care of Terri Burrell, 78 Middleton Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or simply drop the check at Terri’s house.
We are maintaining a full accounting of these funds and will return any unused funds to all homeowners who contribute on a prorated basis. Thank you again for contributing. If we all work together, we have a better chance of achieving our goals.