Sewage – Dirty Business

DSC_0236The Ellis Pump Station in the Hardison Hills area of Jacksonville experienced a sewage leak near Wilson Gate on Monday, June 13th. The original estimate was reported at 1,500 gallons and by June 15th the estimate reached 50,000 gallons. This was the result of the SCADA system being turned off for the Ellis Pump Station during routine maintenance. By the time the maintenance crew stopped the spill, 50,000 gallons of sewage had made it through one manhole and as far as Scales Creek. Both the State and myself had been notified of the spill by the City Manager. The State has sampled on June 13th, June 14th, and June 15th. By the third day the State’s water samples tested low enough for the State to discontinue sampling…

DSC_0237As this was a result of human error, I hope that we will not see this again for Jacksonville. I greatly appreciate the effort made by the City Manager to keep us informed of the leak and the sampling efforts made by the State. I will be making a few trips out to check back and sample where needed.

On the other end of town, it has come to light that even though the Town of Maysville unanimously voted to sign a Special Order by Consent (SOC) on November 5th 2015 the NC Department  of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has yet to complete the timeline draft of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and present it to the Town of Maysville for review. A state official declared, “Maysville WWTP is on my inspection list.  My last visit to Maysville WWTP was a compliance evaluation in December 2015.  The plant was operating well at that time. Since Envirolink has been involved, the plant has done well.”

Continue Reading

Town of Maysville, Wastewater Treatment Update:

Mr. James Harper, Interim Town Manager, announced last night at the Maysville Town Meeting that after speaking recently with NCDENR they have hired Envirolink to help manage the many issues that the municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant faces. Additionally, a new Operator in Charge (ORC) has been hired. ORC Lee Buck stated that he has 14 years of experience operating wastewater treatment plants, has rehabbed several, and has already pinned infiltration / inflow (INI – occurrences of stormwater infiltrating the system and causing overflow) as the primary concern to tackle. Mr. Harper has made a plea to the commissioners to accept a Special Order by Consent (SOC) with the state in order to avoid further fines and repercussions. The SOC contractually binds the town to pursue a timeline of upgrades and fixes in order to obtain compliance. This seems to be the most sensible route to take. It is my hope that the commissioners accept.

White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance will continue to keep our thumb on the pulse of this issue and keep you, the public, informed of any progress being made.

Sincerely,

Nicole L. Triplett

White Oak-New Riverkeeper

Continue Reading

It All Flows Downstream: Maysville Wastewater Treatment Plant (Part 3)

The Town of Maysville has received a Notice of Violation and Assessment of Civil Penalty for Violations and Notice of Violation/Notice of Intent to Enforce. I have attached these for you to review. In summary, the Town of Maysville is paying a $4,000 fine to Department of Environmental Quality because of violations dating October, November, and December 2014 and January and February of 2015. These violations pertain to discharging waste water above permitted flow, exceeding the permitted monthly & weekly discharge of fecal coliform, and failure to properly monitor Mercury and pH.
*A side note on Mercury  – Mercury exists in three different chemical speciations: elemental/metal, inorganic, and organic. It is the organic mercury, methylmercury, you want to be concerned about most because it bioaccumulates (adds up in a biological organism, for example smaller organism eats mercury that has bonded with sediment, fish eats small organism, then human eats fish) once it enters the food web. Once this happens it also biomagnifies, meaning the trophic organisms (including humanimals 🙂 ) eat the affected organism, and exponential increases in mercury are being consumed. Yikes! Trouble is, mercury comes from many natural sources, like rocks and soil. But it is also present in  agricultural runoff. And we have a high instance of agricultural areas all around us. Mercury can affect human health in the following: fetal development – affecting things like neurological performance, causing speech delays, shorter attention span, learning disabilities. In adults – tremors, memory loss, numbness in fingers and toes, possible heart disease… The list goes on…
Coming off of that tangent…
As I had mentioned in a previous update, the last thing we at WONRA want is for the Town of Maysville to pay fines when they have little money to work with. The Notice of Violations does incorporate fines for “the amount of money saved from noncompliance” among other things. I think it is important to remember that environmental compliance should not be seen as arbitrary. This is the health of the White Oak river at stake. This is the health of the community at stake.
At any rate, we all need to stay tuned to this issue for the health of our River.

Nicole L. Triplett

Continue Reading

It All Flows Downstream: Maysville Wastewater Treatment Plant (Part 2)

Here is all of the documents obtained during WONRA’s investigative meeting with the DWR in light of employee complaints and a return inspection. The meeting shined a bit more clarity on the report that we got from the prior employee, or at least the DWR’s opinion of what they believe to have happened. The plant has been out of compliance dating back four years, at least on most inspections. The complaint from the employee stated the inspectors were mislead about the plant 1) having a composite sampler onsite, and 2) the tertiary system being in use. According to the state officials the facility is using another method that sufficiently substitutes for an expensive composite sampler. They are also aware of the tertiary system being shut off and recommend continued chlorination because of this. In remedy of the compliance issue, the state employees said that the Plant must agree to an SOC (Special Order by Consent) in order to avoid the EPA’s attention. Last Thursday evening Douglas Toltzman (WONRA Treasurer) and I attended the Maysville Town Meeting. During the meeting the new interim Town Manager, Mr. James Harper (Former Mayor of Maysille) announced to the commissioners that the Waste Treatment Plant will begin paying a fine to the state on a monthly basis going forward. No mention was made of the possibility of an SOC. Speaking with others outside following the meeting it became clear that the Plant does not have the ability or funding to agree to an SOC – which would require a timeline for upgrades for compliance to be met. I think I speak for all of WONRA when I say the last thing that we would want for a Town with such little monetary resources is to be fined. However, we cannot be responsible for the response, or lack-thereof, of the Town Manger, Mayor, and Commissioners.

 

To keep up with Town of Maysville Meeting dates and times check back here:  http://www.townofmaysville.org/

 

Board Member

Nicole L. Triplett

Noncompliance_Letter_NCDENR_2012

Grants_Improper_Equipment

2_2015_Noncompliant

1_2015_Compliant

1_2015-(2)_Noncompliant

12_2014_Compliant

11_2014_Compliant

10_9_2012_Noncompliance

10_2014_Compliant

09_2014_Noncompliance

08_2014_Noncompliance

07_30_2015_Inspection_Report

07_2014_Noncompliance

06_25_2015_Notice_Of_Violations

05_2015_Noncompliant

04_2015_Compliant

03_31_2011_Noncompliance

03_2015_Compliant

Continue Reading