To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
It’s been a busy week and there are a number of updates and information that we’d like to share.
Full Court Press – Contact Envirolink
It’s important to document any concerns or complaints that you personally experience with the Briar Chapel wastewater management system (odor, runoff, spills, spray effluent pooling) by writing to Envirolink. Just a simple email works, phone calls do not provide the necessary documentation. 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.
To track these concerns, we ask that you email your concern to email@example.com and copy (cc) us at STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com. Likely you will be asked to call the Envirolink customer service number 252-235-4900. We recommend you do both. The call will not provide us with the necessary documentation to compile data, so we ask that you also send the email. Your concern will only be tracked if you send the email.
Note, Envirolink is eager to meet with residents in order to meet their commitment to the NCUC addressing the concerns that our HOA Board and residents raised at the January 14th public hearing. In some cases, we’ve heard of Envirolink coming to resident’s homes unannounced. It is your decision as a resident on whether you want to participate in those meetings.
Synopsis of Events
We’ve been asked how could this happen? How could Briar Chapel’s WWTP become a regional treatment plant for northern Chatham County? Here’s a summary of key events and documents:
We’ve bold-faced incidents of particular concern in the overall chronology of events.
Newland submits application for “Conditional Use” permit for development of BC with initial plan for BC Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).
NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) issues permit to Briar Chapel Utilities, LLC for construction of wastewater treatment plant and reclaimed water utilization system (approved for 750,000 gallons per day (gpd); constructed in 3 phases).
Mike Myers approaches RB Fitch (owner of Fearrington) about handling Fearrington Village’s wastewater in BC wastewater treatment plant.
· NCDEQ issues permit to Briar Chapel Utilities, LLC to operate/maintain WWTP and disposal system, permitted for 250,000 gpd and permitted to add 2 more 250,000 gpd treatment units.
· Old North State Water Company (ONSWC) purchases Briar Chapel Utilities, LLC. This purchase agreement includes commitment to expand current capacity of 250,000 gpd to 600,000 gpd and acknowledges that permit goes to 750,000 gpd. Gives ONSWC right to offer any extra capacity to customers outside of the Briar Chapel development and agrees that ONSWC will service any Extended Service Areas developed by Newland. ONSWC also agrees not to offer service to other customers without the written approval of Newland.
Fitch Creations (Fearrington) applies to NCDEQ for renewal of permit allowing dumping of up to 500,000 gpd of treated wastewater into Bush creek (a tributary of Lake Jordan).
· ONSWC and Fitch Creations sign an Asset Purchase Agreement in which ONSWC purchases all waste water assets of Fitch Creations for $1.
· ONSWC files application to NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) to transfer Fearrington Utilities to ONSWC (this application includes purchase agreement and the approved NCDEQ permit valid through 4/2021 providing right to dump treated wastewater up to 500,000 gpd into Bush Creek.)
· Letter sent by ONSWC to BC residents to notify them of plans to expand service to Fearrington Village. (This was not in the form of an official notice to customers as required by NCUC).
· NCDEQ issues permit giving ONSWC approval to operate/maintain a wastewater system to serve BC subdivision and any permitted satellite communities through 2026.
· Digging begins for pipeline to connect ONSWC WWTP to 15/501 (for eventual connection to Fearrington)
· NCDEQ issues Notice of Violation to ONSWC for spraying effluent on sports courts, sidewalks and benches in picnic area.
· Asset Purchase Agreement signed for ONSWC-Chatham North purchasing BC Wastewater Assets from ONSWC.
· Chatham County Board of Commissioners (CC BOC) approves BC waiver request for Fearrington Utility Easement, approving easement for running pipeline from Fearrington’s waste water facility to 15/501, linking with BC’s wastewater facility.
· Amendment is made to purchase agreement between Newland and ONSWC requiring BC WWTP expansion to 750,000gpd, guaranteeing Newland 600,000 gpd of this capacity by 3/2020 or ONSWC incurs fines, and gives Newland option to purchase additional 300,000 gpd capacity through January 2021.
· NCDEQ issues Notice of Violation for sanitary sewer overflows totaling 4,000 gallons from April – June 2019.
· NCDEQ issues Notice of Violation after compliance evaluation inspection with numerous findings.
· NCDEQ issues Notice of Violation based on volume of self-reported spills by ONS totaling 23,000 gallons from 7/2017 – 9/2019.
· Oct 14 2019 – NCUC sends official notice goes to BC and Fearrington residents on hearings to consider application to transfer BC and Fearrington WWTP’s to ONSWC-Chatham North.
· Testimony of Mike Myers to NCUC in which he shares his plan to make BC WWTP into a “regional” facility with a capacity of 1 million gpd. He also mentions flexibility to disperse treated wastewater via irrigation in BC and utilize permit to disperse treated wastewater into Bush Creek.
· NCUC hears testimony from BC residents in Public Hearing.
· NCUC Public Staff files motion to delay Evidentiary Hearing for minimum of 150 days.
· NCDEQ cites continuing notice of violation post inspection for September 2019 violation, finding additional issues.
Meetings of Note
This week we reached out to a number of organizations, groups and individuals that we felt could be helpful to our situation:
· Representative Robert Reives – organized by Paul Gross
· Sierra Club
· Haw River Assembly
· Chatham County Environmental Review Advisory Committee – looking at environmental impact on Williams Corner (proposed new development that is proposing using BC WWTP for their development)
· Fearrington Village community meeting
In the coming week we have meetings planned with:
· NC Senator Valerie Foushee
· Rose Krasnow (Fearrington Village HOA Board)
· Durham Farms (proposed new development next to Woods Charter that is proposing using BC WWTP for their development)
There is a Chatham County Commissioners Meeting this Monday, Feb 17th but the agenda does not include any topics that are related to our issue. We will be keeping an eye on the next Chatham County Planning Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 3rd and will keep you posted if we need residents to attend.
Chatham News + Records has run an excellent series of articles on the Briar Chapel WWTP issues we’ve been experiencing. Here’s the link to their latest article, published on 2/14/2020: http://bit.ly/37uKP8K Note, in today’s article, Envirolink defends their customer service record and responsiveness to customer issues. This is all the more reason to document your concerns as we’ve recommended.
Chapelboro has also reprinted articles from the Chatham News + Record.
The Daily Tarheel is working on an article that should be coming out shortly. They have done interviews with us and received a tour of the residential area around our WWTP.
If you are approached by media regarding this issue, please refer them to Rusty Field, who is handling all of our media inquiries. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Total contributions to date (as of 2/13/2020): $25,983.91
Total number of contributors: 280
We’d like to thank everyone who has already donated towards the cost of legal representation. We have funded the retainer for the attorney and are working towards sufficient funds to cover us for the NC Utilities Commission Evidentiary Hearing through to final decision. If you haven’t had a chance to make a donation yet, please consider doing this. We’ve had questions from many of you asking for help in determining a suggested donation. 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.