City is selling sewer capacity to Chocowinity

Published 11:57 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

Contributing Editor

It took some time to decide on the preferred wording, but Washington’s City Council unanimously voted to sell the town of Chocowinity more capacity in its wastewater-treatment system.
The town told the city it needs the extra capacity to serve a new subdivision in the town’s jurisdiction.
There was no question the city would sell the additional 10,000 gallons per day of capacity to the town for $100,000. The question was how to word the amendment to an existing contract and agreement so it clearly defined the maximum daily peak load allowed by the agreement and made clear the maximum amount of wastewater the city would treat for the town each month. The council told City Manager James C. Smith and City Attorney Franz Holscher to revise the agreement’s wording so it leaves no doubt about the definitions before the agreement is signed.
Under the amendment, the town’s treatment capacity was increased from 304,293 gallons to 314,293 gallons on a daily basis (averaged over a month, but with the maximum amount on any given day no more than 150 percent of that average, or about 471,000 gallons).
The deal between the city and town is the latest change to the service the city has provided the town since 1988, when the city and town signed a contract regarding wastewater treatment. In 1993, the city and town signed an agreement also regarding wastewater treatment. That agreement concerned the city treating a certain amount of wastewater from the Cypress Landing subdivision served by the town’s sewer system.
In 2008, the town approached the city about acquiring more capacity in the city’s wastewater-treatment system.
In a memorandum from Smith to Mayor Judy Meier Jennette and the City Council in the spring of 2008, Smith wrote that a study of Chocowinity’s sewer system indicated the town would need to purchase about 146,000 gallons per day additional wastewater-treatment capacity in the city’s wastewater-treatment plant to accommodate several new residential and commercial developments in the near future, including a new industrial park. Chocowinity likely would need to purchase an additional 686,000 gallons per day of wastewater-treatment capacity in the city’s wastewater-treatment plant over the next 20 years, according to the memorandum.
Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, said the city’s wastewater treatment plant is permitted by the state to treat 3.65 million gallons of wastewater each day. The plant can handle about 5 million gallons a day, according to Lewis.
“We’re at approximately 57 percent in committed capacity. … What we’re seeing actually go through the plant each day is about 50 percent of our capacity,” Lewis said Wednesday.
The city is providing or has been asked to provide wastewater-treatment services to development projects at Carver Machine Works, Whichard’s Beach, Griffin’s Beach, Tranter’s Creek RV Park, Moss Landing, Somerset and several industrial customers with reserved capacity that are not yet using their full allocations.
At 80 percent capacity, the city is required to begin engineering studies for the next phase of expanding its wastewater-treatment plant or building a new one. The city can increase its capacity by about 950,000 gallons a day by expanding its existing treatment plant.