03/19/04 — Not everyone wants sewer service

View Archive

Not everyone wants sewer service

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 19, 2004 2:01 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Some residents say they don't want to hook up to the new sewer system, which is ready to be used.

The Seven Springs sewer system is expected to hook up to 67 houses, but some of the residents say they didn't know hook-ups would be mandatory.

The sewer line goes from Seven Springs to Spring Creek High School and then to Brogden Primary School, where it feeds into a line that goes to Goldsboro's sewage plant. The expected discharge is about 15,000 gallons a day, and the town is paying Wayne County a $165,000 fee for the right to discharge 50,000 gallons a day into the plant at Goldsboro.

The $3 million system's ability to pay for itself is based on all the residents hooking up and paying the user fee, says the engineer who designed it, Tyndall Lewis with McDavid Associates. He says the average monthly bill might be about $35.

There's a very limited amount of grant money out there with which to do sewer projects, said Lewis, and the local governments are competing with each other to get the money.

"The people funding the sewer lines want to know people are going to use it," he said. "They put in the grant application that the town is willing to implement mandatory hook-up ordinances."

That was done four or five years ago when the town board applied for the grant.

But Wednesday night, several residents complained to the board about having to hook up to the system. Their septic systems worked fine, they said. But there are others, though, who have failed septic systems.

Lewis said it's unusual for the state to allow a local government to reimburse people for hook-up expenses. "Other towns impose assessments of several thousand dollars. The average expense for people hooking up is around $4,000."

One of the residents who complained Wednesday night was John Lee, who said his septic system is working fine.

Mayor Jewel Kilpatrick told him that requiring the hook-ups was the only way the town could get a grant to build the sewer system.

"I think we've been real lucky," she said.

Because there is money left over from the project, the granting agency has agreed to allow the town to refund $1,000 of the expenses incurred by residents to hook up to the system and to empty their septic tanks and fill them with sand. The refund is contingent on using a licensed plumber and having both jobs inspected. April 15 is the deadline to have it done to qualify for the refund.

Each resident pays a $75 tap fee and a $75 deposit, which is refundable when the resident moves. If it is rental property, the homeowner pays the tap fee, and the renter pays the deposit.

Lee said it could cost him up to $1,960 to tap onto the sewer system, shut down the septic system and have both inspected. "And all I've got to run is 37 feet of pipe to get to the sewer system."

Town Commissioner Emma Ward said another plumber told her it would cost her about $350.

Town Commissioner Danny Carter told the group of about five residents that their water would be disconnected if they didn't hook onto the sewer system. The sewer bills are based on water usage, he said. "The billing will start next month, whether you use it or not," he said.

People need to do away with the septic tanks on the whole planet, "especially where we're bunched up together like we are," said Carter. "We're drinking each other's sewage. ... It won't be a financial issue if everybody stays on septic systems. It will be a health issue."

The state Health Department wants the septic tanks filled in, said the mayor. "They said they're dangerous" when they're abandoned, she said. "They could cave in."