08/20/07 — Mount Olive will plant trees near sewer plant

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Mount Olive will plant trees near sewer plant

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 20, 2007 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Town officials are planning to plant sycamore trees on more than 150 acres of land surrounding the town's new sewer plant.

They say the trees will not only help absorb the groundwater, but will improve air quality.

The new sewage treatment plant is under construction and is expected to be completed in October or November. After years of being under a state moratorium on adding to the old system, the town came up with the money to build a plant that can handle twice the amount of sewage -- 2 million gallons per day.

Town Manager Charles Brown said he expects the trees to be planted this winter. Sycamores demand a great deal of water, as much as 4.5 gallons a day at maturity, Brown noted.

Grading of the land around the plant started last week.

The process will start with treating waste water, with the treated water then being filtered until it reaches a certain level of cleanliness. In the last step of the process, the water will go through emitters, or hoses with small holes, allowing the trees to be slowly sprayed.

No chemicals will be needed during treatment of the waste water, since the new plant will have an ultraviolet light disinfecting system.

Engineer Rick Bounds said that the trees have a certain amount of uptake, and then the rest of the water will be piped to the Northeast Cape Fear River, as it has been in the past. Bounds said the waste water will be clean enough that it will not harm the water in the river.

"A lot of waste water plants are producing better quality water than what is in the lakes and streams," Bounds said. "We are not polluting the state water."

About 600,000 gallons of water a day will go to the lagoons and then to spray the field. The trees will be split into different zones, and a pump station in the lagoon will distribute water to different zones on different days.

"The same zone may not get sprayed every day," Bounds said. "There are lots of determining factors for which trees get sprayed and how often. It depends on the saturation of the ground, and it depends on the weather."

The town will harvest the sycamore trees every seven years to keep the soil fresh, and the wood will be sold to make paper.

But, before any of the trees are planted, other parts of the project must be finished and implemented, Brown said.

"One thing we have to do is make sure the lagoons are full, and we have to have our irrigation system together," he said. "We have to have water for the trees to drink."

Other towns have implemented this sort of system, and it has worked well, Brown said.

In a few years, the town hopes to proceed further in the development of water treatment. Brown believes the town might be able to purify the water the sycamores use for drinking water in years to come.

Bounds hopes it is true but doesn't believe that will happen any time soon.

"Sometime in my later lifetime I think we will be able to recycle the water in some way," he said. "But not now."