05/04/04 — Eureka wonders about high sewer bills

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Eureka wonders about high sewer bills

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on May 4, 2004 1:57 PM

EUREKA -- The town board is trying to determine why it is receiving high sewer bills from the town of Fremont.

The bills are indicating that an abnormally high amount of wastewater is being pumped from Eureka's sewer system to Fremont.

Mike Acquesta, town engineer, told the Eureka board Monday that the system is designed for 40,000 gallons per day, and he has tested all of the pump stations and said the flow meters were accurate within 10 percent of each other.

Somehow Fremont is still showing that the town is pumping three times more gallons than it actually is, said Ray Lancaster, former Eureka commissioner. He plans to continue to test the meters.

Fremont indicated that the town was pumping over 70,000 gallons per day for several months. It should be more like 15,000, he said. The town received a bill for over $16,000 based on what it pumped from Jan. 15 to March 17.

"We will try to find the problem as quickly as possible," said Acquesta.

Mayor Randy Bass wondered if they should pay the high bills since they do not know what the problem is. He said there has been a discussion with Fremont and it agreed that Eureka just have to pay based on what it thinks it is pumping. If they cannot determine what is wrong, it will have to pay the rest, said Bass.

He said the town may send a letter to the state about the problem if it cannot determine why the gallon amount is so high. There is also the option of possibly getting off the new line and going back to lagoons or septic tanks.

Acquesta said Fremont is not trying to do anything to hurt the town and it is willing to work with it. He said Fremont is having a similar problem with what it is pumping to Goldsboro.

In the meantime, he encouraged the board to consider applying for more grants to rehabilitate the system. The town has already been approved for a combined $67,000 grant from the state for fencing around the wet wells, generators, a telemetry system and money for manhole rehabilitation. He said they could use more money to install portable flow meters, which cost between $14,000 to $15,000 each.

The meters accumulate the wastewater usage during a specified amount of time and can send that information back to a computer to be downloaded. The computer can then print out graphs showing how much the town is pumping to Fremont, he added. There is another grant available that is worth a maximum of $400,000 and the town would have to contribute 10.1 percent. The application is due by Sept. 30.

Town Manager

Bass said the town needs a town manager that will look after things. He mentioned two names -- Tom Barnes, who will retire as Fremont's town administrator, and Ray Lancaster. Several board members seemed to favor asking Lancaster, who is a former mayor and commissioner. He also has some engineering experience while working at DuPont.

"We need all the help we can get," said Bass.

He said Lancaster would work for a rate of $15 per hour and that the town would need someone to work at least eight hours per week. The board did not vote on hiring someone, but will continue to discuss it.

Police protection

Bass said he has received good feedback from residents on police protection, and there have been no break-ins inside or around the town's limits, according to Commissioner Bobby Gooding. The board decided to hire off-duty deputies to being patrolling the town in March.

Bass recommended inviting the public out to the next board meeting in June, which should be held at the Fire Department. The board will continue its discussion on the sewer line, budget and other issues. The budget will be posted by June 1 and will be adopted on or before July 1.