To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
Hope all of you are well and managing through the cold temps and wet weather. Spring is coming! There are several important updates on our wastewater system, but first we want to address a concern.
We’ve heard from some residents that there is no need to worry about Briar Chapel’s WW issues, StopChathamNorth is working on it. We want to be clear. SCN is being vigilant in monitoring our communities WW issues and reporting them to the appropriate regulatory authorities, local government officials, our HOA Board and the WW system owner and operator. Most importantly, we are working hard to investigate and document residents concerns and keep you informed. With the formation of the Tri-Party agreement, the responsibility for addressing these issues lies solely with Newland, ONSWC and our HOA Board. SCN is not a member of this agreement and we can only monitor activities and work to promote transparency. If you are concerned about these issues, it is important for you to stay engaged, keep informed and actively participate in the BCCA Board meetings to ensure your voice is heard.
ONSWC Resumes Approving New Sewer Connections for New Homes in Briar Chapel
On February 3rd, ONSWC stopped approving new sewer connections for new homes under construction in Briar Chapel until either NCDEQ approved the pending permit mods for additional spray irrigation capacity or additional permitted spray fields within Briar Chapel could be certified. On February 10th, the CE Group submitted engineering certification for three additional spray fields located: 1) in back fields of community park off Parker Herndon/Andrews Store Rd, 2) along the power easement and behind homes on Beacon Ridge off Briar Chapel Parkway/Granite Mill Rd and 3) along Briar Chapel Parkway just north of Catullo Run. On February 15th, NCDEQ issued an updated permit that increased our WW system capacity to 237,525 gpd.
ONSWC is preparing to start work on the expansion of the WWTP from 250,000 gpd to 500,000 gpd, with completion expected by the end of this year. With this expansion, they will need to significantly increase the volume of reclaimed water spray irrigation within the community. The permit modifications that are currently under review by NCDEQ will increase the spray irrigation capacity to just over 500,000 gpd.
Quality Landscaping is currently working on several already permitted and constructed spray fields to get them operational and certified for use. One of these areas is located behind Landover Circle along the gravel trail/road to Willow Oak Montesorri. Although previously permitted and constructed, the road was put in recently and has significantly affected the topology of this area creating a new tributary to the creek that the spray irrigation is flowing into. We’ve notified Quality Landscaping and Integra Water/ONSWC of this permit violation and have shared this information with our HOA Board and NCDEQ. In response, the HOA Board attorney sent this response to a concerned Landover Circle resident. This response says the Covenants that all Briar Chapel homeowners signed when we purchased our homes gives Newland the right to install utilities throughout our community and provide easements to the ONSWC to operate and maintain these utilities, including the spray irrigation. While the BCCA owns the property, they have no authority abou the installation and operation of spray irrigation.
We understand that currently our community’s spray irrigation system consists of approximately 96 miles of piping and 9,000+ spray heads. To meet the needs to the expansion of the WW system, this system will need to double in size. According to NCDEQ, we are one of the largest spray irrigation systems in the Triangle.
BCCA Publishes Report on Testing of Reclaimed Spray Irrigation
On February 16th, the BCCA published results of testing of the reclaimed water quality from our spray irrigation system. This testing was done by ONSWC and an independent lab (Agri-Waste Technologies) hired by the BCCA during the 2020 spray irrigation season. The testing was done on a set of parameters that NCDEQ requires to be tested and compared against the daily maximum limits that NCDEQ has established for testing of the treated wastewater when it leaves the WWTP. Testing was performed throughout the community.
In the ONSWC testing, 590 tests were performed and just over 17% of the test results exceeded daily maximum limits set by NCDEQ. Of these exceedences, the majority were for fecal coliform, total suspended solids and turbidity. In the Agri-Waste Technologies testing, 63 tests were performed for the same parameters and just over 3% of the test results exceeded daily maximum limits sets by NCDEQ and another 3% of test results were at the daily maximum limit. While the testing performed by AWT resulted in better results, they performed significantly fewer tests.
The BCCA concluded, “While there were a few transient exceedances of the NCDEQ guidelines, the general lack of exceedances suggests that the irrigation water at the sprinkler heads did not represent a hazard to human health.” The BCCA plans to continue testing in 2021.
Meetings with Chatham County Commissioners
In January/February we met with four of our our Chatham County Comissioners: Karen Howard, Diana Hales, Franklin Gomez and Jim Crawford. On February 18th, we met with Mike Dasher (District 2) who has recently been appointed Chairman of the Chatham County Commissioners. Mr. Dasher acknowledged that Briar Chapel “has a big bullseye” when it comes to other communities wanting to connect into the WWTP. He feels a financial argument could be made that approval of contiguous development might be needed to provide enough customers to generate the revenue needed to operate and maintain the plant appropriately. He expressed reluctance to approve contiguous development without 1) assurance that the problems have been fixed or 2) promises and assurances that they will be fixed which they could make contingent before approval of the final plats.
He addressed the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) which is being developed to replace and consolidate all the current Chatham County development ordinances. While Briar Chapel will still be grandfathered under the Compact Community Ordinance, he thought items could be added to the UDO which could potentially benefit Briar Chapel by affecting the future development outside of Briar Chapel.
We raised our concerns about sewage odors surrounding the WWTP. Mr. Dasher asked about the Tri-Party Council’s progress on these odor concerns and was surprised to learn that so far only odor concerns for the spray irrigation system have been addressed. In recent emails the BCCA has stated that they are studying odors around the plant to determine if they are a health hazard but we are not aware of any actions taken to resolve these concerns.
TetraTech Report on Condition of Pokeberry Creek
On February 11th the BCCA published an assessment of Pokeberry Creek prepared by TetraTech. This is a comprehensive report, but one of the topics covers the four sewer pipes that cross over Pokeberry Creek in the lower section of the creek near the dog park on Great Ridge Parkway. According to this report, when those pipes were first installed they were buried under Pokeberry Creek. These pipes are now exposed and without support. (Picture) Tree trunks and other debris has gotten caught in the pipes. (Picture) They make the point that this represents a significant risk, since a pipe break could do significant damage to the creek.
TetraTech is recommending two options: 1) bore a new channel for the pipeline running under the creek (as it was originally designed) or 2) build concrete piers to give the pipes more support. The BCCA has reviewed the report and is creating a work group to prepare recommendations.
Status Update on Tri-Party Agreement
Here’s the latest information we have on the status of the work outlined in the Tri-Party Agreement:
· Construction of the forcemain bypass was announced to begin on February 8th and is estimated to take 60 days. The pipeline bypass will run from Pump Station A (on Great Ridge Parkway by the dog park) along Great Ridge Parkway to the SD-East force main (located behind the homes on Tyner Loop).
· The WWTP expansion is expected to begin soon. ONSWC is planning to utilize the existing permit, requiring expansion to 500,000gpd using extended aeration. Our understanding from Mr. McDonald is they expect construction to be completed by end of 2021.
· NCDEQ is reviewing three additional permit modification requests from ONSWC that would convert some existing spray irrigation from potable to reclaimed water (e.g. Encore residential homes, homes in the Wildwind area and Sports Courts) and allows construction of some additional spray irrigation fields (area north and south of Western pond and in common areas within Encore and behind Cliffdale homes). If approved, this would increase our spray irrigation capacity to 521,454 gpd.
· The Tri-Party Council met on February 9th 2021. We are waiting for the HOA Board to post the minutes from this meeting.
· The Zoom Presentation and Q&A session being organized by the BCCA with Mr. McDonald (owner of Integra Water) and Amanda Grenier (ORC of the Briar Chapel WW system) was postponed and has not yet been rescheduled.
Documenting our Concerns
We are extremely thankful for the information shared with us by BC residents. We need to continue to document resident’s complaints/concerns, particularly odor issues. When you have a complaint, please call Integra Water’s customer service number 877-511-2911. To make sure your complaint is documented, we ask that you also email your concern to us at STOPCHATHAMNORTH@gmail.com. We will make sure your complaint is shared with all the appropriate parties (Integra Water, NCDEQ, BCCA board, First Residential, Amanda Grenier) and documented/tracked.
Total amount donated: $49,340.16 (477 families contributing)
Spent to date: $42,340.16 (Legal: $35,317.50, Engineering Expert: $6,142.00, Administrative: $880.66)
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 Liz Rolison, 1900 Briar Chapel Parkway, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or simply drop the check at Liz’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.
StopChathamNorth is an unincorporated non-profit association representing concerned homeowners within Briar Chapel. StopChathamNorth does NOT support a regional wastewater treatment plant within the residential community of Briar Chapel. We are aware that there are several new communities surrounding Briar Chapel that are planning to utilize our WWTP. We are opposed to all of these plans to expand Briar Chapel’s WWTP for uses outside of the Briar Chapel residential community. We also believe that the WWTP and ONSWC must be fully compliant with all governance and regulatory guidelines to ensure operations do not create a nuisance, unhealthy or hazardous conditions for Briar Chapel residents.
For more information: www.stopchathamnorth.com