10/07/05 — Sewer plant project is waiting for state to approve permits

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Sewer plant project is waiting for state to approve permits

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 7, 2005 1:51 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- State officials are doing the final review on the last permit for a regional sewer plant.

Mount Olive Town Manager Ray McDonald said if everything stays as it is now, it looks like the town will be able to start taking bids for the new wastewater treatment plant Dec. 1.

"Once we answer the final questions, they say they will respond real quickly on the permits," McDonald said about the state officials who came to Mount Olive two weeks ago to meet with town officials.

He said when the state gives the town a green light, it will take about a month to get ready for the bidding process. After bids open, the town will receive them until Jan. 1.

If everything going according to plan, McDonald said construction on the plant could begin March 1.

Getting a regional sewer plant has been a five-year process so far.

The town's wastewater treatment plant was constructed to handle 1 million gallons a day. Officials said infiltration was so bad that, when it rained in the year 2000, the plant sometimes had to handle more than 2 million gallons. The plant was just not big enough to cope with that much flow, they said.

When town officials asked for help with the sewer problems, state environmental officials didn't even want to talk to them until they embraced a regional concept. When other towns joined the project, a $44,100 grant was approved for an engineer's study.

The town was ready to kick off its regional sewer project in February 2001 and applied for three grants totaling $10.7 million from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The town had to provide a 20 percent match, or $2.14 million.

Voters passed a $5 million bond issue for the regional sewer project in May 2003.

The town bought the last of the 321 acres of spray field land needed for the effluent from the treatment plant in April 2004 and started drawing down the money from a bond issue the following month to get started on the regional system.

The town of Calypso officially agreed to hook into the system the following November.

The town passed its capital project budget for regional sewer this February and has been waiting ever since for the state to give permission to start building the treatment plant.