To the Residents of Briar Chapel,
Hope all of you are well and enjoying the spring weather. Here’s the latest updates on wastewater in our community.
NCUC Approves Increase in Connection Fee to Briar Chapel WWTP
On March 8th, ONSWC submitted a request to NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) to allow them to increase the connection fees to the Briar Chapel WWTP from $1,500 to $4,000 per residential unit (REU). This allows ONSWC to offset some of the capital costs for the WWTP expansion to those customers who are driving the need for this expansion. The expansion of the WWTP is required to complete a small amount of residential development and a more significant amount of commercial development for Newland. SCN sent a letter to NCUC expressing our support for ONSWC’s Motion to Increase Connection Fees. We are please to report that on April 19th, NCUC issued an order approving the increase to the connection fees.
Impact on Tax Valuation on Homes Closest to the WWTP
Chatham County has recently reappraised all of the homes within Briar Chapel. SCN was contacted by several concerned residents regarding their property tax appraisals. We did some research (using the Chatham County public tax records) and found that for most Briar Chapel homeowners, the reappraisals resulted in an increase in the assessed market value of their homes (on average 17% increase based on a random sample of homes throughout Briar Chapel). However, for those homeowners who live close to the WWTP, their assessed market values declined (on average a decline of 9% for homes located close to the WWTP, with some homes declining as much as 18-22%). We contacted the Chatham County appraisers and they confirmed that the factors considered for these devaluations were directly related to the continuing problems (I.e., odors and spills) we have experienced with the Briar Chapel WWTP. This is the first tangible evidence of “damages” to those homeowners located close to the Briar Chapel WWTP.
On April 20th, we shared this information in a letter to the BCCA Board of Directors along with the detailed data we had collected. We asked that they notify Briar Chapel homeowners at their April 21st BCCA meeting of this devaluation based on their fiduciary responsibility to the community and homeowners. We also stressed the importance of getting expedited approval for the permit modification request for the odor control improvements (a key reason for the devaluation) and asked that the BCCA submit a letter or meet with NCDEQ officials to voice their support for the expedited approval of this request. We were told that the request (which was issued on March 31st) is being reviewed by their engineering firm TetraTech and that when they receive their review they will decide on appropriate steps.
SCN supports the expedited approval of this permit modification request. We have sent a letter to NCDEQ voicing our support for this permit modification. Also, on April 22nd we met with Scott Vinson of NCDEQ to discuss these odor control improvements and to voice our support for timely approval of these modifications. A couple of items to note from this discussion:
· NCDEQ does not have an expedited approval process, but they have a reviewer working on the request and are aware of the need for timely approval to allow this work to be done as part of the plant expansion. They noted that they will be sending ONSWC a request for additional information and that timely response on that request will be needed.
· We reviewed the specific components of the request and were told that recently Governor’s Club has had approved a similar Odor Control System for their WWTP.
· NCDEQ also explained that they could not require both UV and chlorine disinfection, but that they feel chlorine disinfection (as is proposed in the current request) is the preferred method and would provide us additional benefits in odor control in the retention ponds and spray irrigation system.
· We asked about the remaining spray irrigation permit requests. Package H (located in area south/west of Western Retention Pond) and Package I/J (includes homes in Encore, Encore common areas, wooded areas surrounding Encore, common area behind Cliffdale/Whispering Wind and the Sports Courts)
o At this week’s BCCA Board Meeting, Mr. Speers had indicated that NCDEQ was planning to approve Package H contingent on no trails being allowed in that area. Mr. Speers said that Newland and the BCCA would be challenging NCDEQ on this requirement. We were told this concern was raised by NCDEQ due to an earlier incident where it was found residents were being sprayed by reclaimed irrigation in other areas of our community. Mr. Vinson confirmed that according to their regulations NCDEQ cannot approve a permit that allows uncontrolled public access to the trails in areas where reclaimed irrigation is in active use. A choice will have to be made: reclaimed irrigation or trails.
· NCDEQ will be posting a NOV for the March 3rd sewage spill of 1,500 gallons that occurred on Hill Creek Road and Great Ridge Parkway.
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:
· Work is nearing completion on the forcemain bypass. Testing is underway and completion is expected by next week. Many of the sewage spills have occurred along Force Main A, this project rerouted the wastewater from Pump Station A to the more robust SD East force main and we are hopeful that this bypass will significantly reduce sewage spills in the future.
· Work on the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) expansion is underway. ONSWC is using 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.
· The permit modification request for the Odor Control system was submitted March 31st. According to Mr. McDonald, ONSWC needs expedited approval in 60 days of this permit modification to make these improvements. NCDEQ is reviewing the request and is expected to request more information before reaching a decision.
· NCDEQ approved additional spray irrigation permit modifications increasing the volume of spray irrigation to 250,000gpd.
· NC DEQ is reviewing two additional permit modification requests from ONSWC that would convert some existing spray irrigation from potable to reclaimed water (e.g. Encore residential homes and Sports Courts) and allows construction of some additional spray irrigation fields (area west and south of Western retention pond and in common areas within Encore and behind Cliffdale homes). If approved, this would increase our spray irrigation capacity to close to 500,000 gpd.
· The Tri-Party Council posted their minutes notes from their March 9th meeting. Of note:
o BCCA has decided to no longer forward ONSWC responses to odor complaints from residents to the community and will rely on ONSWC to keep residents informed.
o ONSWC will not issue connections for commercial users until all of the spray irrigation expansion permits are issued.
· The Tri-Party Council met on April 13th, 2021. We are waiting for these minutes to be posted. Their next meeting is scheduled for May 11thth, 2021.
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 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: $50,496.75 (492 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 contributors taking into account the weighted average cost to contribution 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