03/30/11 — Mount Olive looking for money to fix sewer plant

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Mount Olive looking for money to fix sewer plant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 30, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive Town Manager Charles Brown was on his way early today to Raleigh to hand-deliver an application for a $50,000 grant that town officials are hopeful will eventually lead to correcting a host of design problems at the town's new multi-million-dollar sewer plant.

They also are banking on the redesign plans to bolster their legal standing when they approach the original engineer company about paying to correct the problems.

The town board met briefly in special session Tuesday night to adopt a resolution authorizing the application for the technical assistance grant through the Construction Grants and Loan portion of the state Division of Water Quality.

No local match is required.

Thursday is the deadline for the grant applications -- hence the need for the special session and hand delivering the application, Brown said.

"If you will recall, I had spoken with board back at the budget meeting and told them I was going to request $7,000 from them to cover the close out cost of our project," Brown said. "Also, $20,000 to re-engineer the filtration system down there. Everybody was reluctant to commit to that amount of money and justifiably so in this tight economy.

"We sort of did a little exploration and looking around and what we came up with is a $50,000 technical assistance grant. It is basically to do studies, basically the situation that we have. It is technical assistance to try and work out those problems using remediation on the project."

If funded, it means the town won't have to "scramble around" to come up with the $27,000, Brown said.

Brown said he found out about the loan late last week.

"We had to put all of the data together because we have to have all of water and sewer to make sure that we qualify," he said. "We have to do a lot of forms.

"We will use the entire $50,000 down there because we have issues down there have to be addressed. It will take that entire amount to take care of it.

The town would use $7,000 of the $50,000 to close out the project. The remainder would be used to re-engineer plans to correct numerous problems at the plant that Brown has labeled a "mess."

The treatment plant itself works fine, he said. But a major problem is the filter system that is supposed to remove debris from the treated water. Clogged lines means the plant can't operate efficiently.

The grant money won't completely correct the problem, Brown said, but it would give the town an idea of how much the repairs will cost.

The town will in turn use as it pursues possible legal action against Hobbs and Upchurch, the engineering firm responsible for the project plans.

Brown has said the town could first take those plans to Hobbs and Upchurch to see if the company would seek to avoid legal action by reaching a settlement with town.

"This will give us the ammunition to go to them," Brown said. "This is what it will take to fix it. You'all either fix it or we are going to have to go to court."