Email Blast - March 10th 2021


To the Residents of Briar Chapel,

Hope all of you are well. Here’s an update on the Wastewater Town Hall held earlier this week.

Town Hall on Wastewater Issues

On February 8th the BCCA organized a Town Hall to discuss wastewater issues. The panel included: John McDonald (Owner) and Amanda Grenier (Operator) of ONSWC, Tanya Matzen (VP of Operations for Newland) of NNP Briar Chapel, and Jerry Cole and Cathy Washburn of BCCA. Although listed on the announcement, Tom Speer was not one of the panelist.

The call was capped at 100 participants (due to a technology constraint), so unfortunately a number of residents were not able to get on the call. The meeting opened with a presentation by Mr. McDonald, providing a good overview of how the plant operates, the significant repairs that have been made to the system and the plans for the permitted expansion and proposed odor control system. The remainder of the meeting involved reading of pre-submitted questions with responses. There was no opportunity for residents to voice their opinions or submit followup questions for response.

Residents submitted 50+ questions before the meeting. By our count approximately 30 questions were read and answers provided. We would have liked to have seen the moderator followup with the panelist when questions were not completely answered. John McDonald answered most of the questions, with Jerry Cole and Tanya Matzen joining in for a handful of questions. We appreciated Mr. McDonald’s straightforwardness.

Key points made during the meeting:

· Mr. McDonald discussed plans for adding an odor control system at the WWTP, which would consist of:

  1. conversion from extended aeration to diffused aeration (replaces surface aerators which put aerosols into the air with bubblers that work from the bottom of the tank)
  2. provide rigid covering over EQ basins where wastewater enters the plant and dump room where sludge is stored to capture the principle sources of odor
  3. implementation of a Biofilter (made by Evoqua) where odorous air can be pumped through a biofiltration process which will remove 99% of the hydrogen sulfide in the air as well as other odorous compounds.

Important to note: This is a recent development and will require a permit modification from NCDEQ. ONSWC is working on the design changes to add these improvements and are planning to submit the permit modification by the end of March. Mr. McDonald hopes that DEQ will quickly approve the permit modification, but it is a risk. In a response to questions we sent to him about these improvements, he said “I cannot guarantee those permit changes will be approved in a timely manner to allow us to make these improvements.” DEQ will not receive the permit modification request until the end of the month and could not comment to us on whether they will be able to approve this in a timely manner.

· In response to a question on how many other communities would be added to Briar Chapel’s WW system, residents were told that “no other communities would be added, just Briar Chapel and Newland’s plans”. Note, Firmage (currently under development), US Steel (Encore and Whispering Wind) and Willow Oak Montessori are all considered as development outside of Briar Chapel by Chatham County (based on the Briar Chapel Conditional Use permit) and NCUC (based on the originally defined service area for the Briar Chapel WW system).

· In response to a question about negative health effects for odors and spray irrigation, Jerry Cole made several points:

  1. The spray irrigation testing was compared to the NCDEQ limits established in the permit for Briar Chapel. These limits only apply to the reclaimed water as it is leaving the WWTP. Once it goes into the retention ponds, additional contamination can occur (e.g. animal feces). The permit for Briar Chapel’s spray irrigation system does not require that ONSWC ensure that the reclaimed water discharged through spray irrigation meet these same standards.
  2. Of all the tests performed, only fecal coliform is dangerous for human health. Jerry stated that there was only one test that showed an exceedance on fecal coliform in the test results. He was referring to the testing done by AWT (hired by the BCCA). There were only 11 tests done by AWT for fecal coliform and one exceeded levels set in our permit (9%). There were also 34 exceedences for fecal coliform shown on the ONSWC test results. Finally, the other tests results (e.g, ammonia nitrogen, BOD, TSS, pH) showed exceedances that can be harmful to our environment and Pokeberry Creek.
  • Since 10/1/2020 ONSWC has spent $300,000+ on repairs and maintenance on the WWTP. Later in the meeting Mr. McDonald stated that he has spent $600,000 to date on the entire Briar Chapel WW system. On March 8th , ONSWC submitted to NCUC a Motion to Increase Connection Fees to the Briar Chapel WW system. In this document, they give the estimated cost per gallon to expand the capacity of the Briar Chapel WWTP as $13.90 /gallon (which works out to roughly $3.475m). Note, utility companies expect to recoup these costs through rate increases to their customers. We would expect that after the repairs and expansion are completed, we will likely see ONSWC file a motion for a rate increase with the NCUC. We’d also like to see our BCCA support the current Motion of Increase Connection Fees, to help offset the costs of these upgrades to Briar Chapel residents.

Response to Recent Influx of Odor Complaints

The BCCA provided a recent response from Amanda Grenier to the influx of resident odor complaints. She explains that the amount of rain has been the main cause of odors, since they have not been able to remove the sludge (by-product of wastewater processing) from the plant. With the current volume of wastewater processed daily (@ 205,000 gpd), ONSWC must remove 25,000 lbs of sludge per week. It goes to Granville Farms for use in agriculture. When there is a lot of rain, Granville Farms cannot accept the sludge (since they are not able to apply it in wet conditions and have no facility for storing). This problem will be more significant as the volume of wastewater increases.

Rain does make things more difficult for ONSWC, but capacity is another part of the problem. When you are running near capacity, you cannot easily accommodate anything out of the ordinary, such as: delays in sludge hauling, equipment failure and weather events.

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:

· Latest update on the forcemain bypass is work is starting and should be completed in 6 weeks (@ April 19th). 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).

· Work on the WWTP expansion is starting with excavation beginning week of March 15th. Equipment and materials have been staged. ONSWC is planning to utilize the existing permit, requiring expansion to 500,000 gpd using extended aeration. Our understanding from Mr. McDonald is they expect construction to be completed by end of 2021.

· Odor Control system is currently being designed and permit modification will be submitted to DEQ by end of March. ONSWC needs rapid approval of this permit modification to make these improvements.

· 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 March 9th, 2021. We are waiting for these minutes to be posted.

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 and spray irrigation 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 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: $49,841.53 (489families 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.



Mission Statement

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: