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SUNSET BEACH—Planning board members are discussing a sewer use ordinance with the county.
If approved, it would include a requirement for mandatory connection for all private wastewater treatment systems in town.
“It’s very good to have for environmental concerns, and it addresses the practicality of funding the system,” town administrator Gary Parker said.
North Carolina statute allows private users to continue to use their septic tanks.
“But if you do that, you’re still billed even if you’re not receiving the service,” Parker said. “The smart thing to do is go on and make use, to tap onto the system.”
Typical tap-on fees for future sewer in town will be “in the thousand-dollar range,” he said, “for each tap for water or for sewer.”
Plans call for a partly pressurized system and partly vacuum system for the island because of its flat topography and difference in installing a pumping system there, Parker said.
The mainland is to receive both pumping and gravity type sewer.
Parker added a public meeting will take place in mid to late April “where all of this will be laid out.”
Design maps of the future county-run sewer system will be posted.
“The public is invited to see their particular street or house to see how this will be built,” Parker told board members.
“Do we have the authority to require all users to tap on?” board member Eddie Walters asked, citing in particular The Colony complex, which has its own pump station.
Parker said state policy encourages abandonment of small systems. The state, he said, can deny issuance of a renewal permit and also can implement incentives.
The Coastal Stormwater Rule, implemented in the late 1980s by the Division of Water Quality, regulates new development activities in 20 coastal counties in North Carolina to prevent pollution of public waters by stormwater runoff.
Walters noted the county will have to beef up its staff to handle proposed changes to the rule.
The changes include reducing the low-density threshold from 25 to 12 percent and requiring stormwater controls for new high-density projects to be designed for about 3.5 inches of rainfall. The “old design” requirement was for 1.5 inches of rainfall for projects within one-half mile of shellfish harvesting waters.
For new projects outside a half-mile of shellfish harvesting waters, the proposed low-density threshold would be reduced from 30 to 24 percent and would require design for 1.5 inches of rainfall as opposed to the old requirement of 1 inch of rainfall.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at email@example.com