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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Responds To State's Notification Of Violation And Possible Civil Penalty For Sewer Overflows

Carolina Beach Responds To State's Notification Of Violation And Possible Civil Penalty For Sewer Overflows

The Town of Carolina Beach recently responded to a notice of violation issued by North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality concerning several sewer discharges in July and August of last year.

 

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach recently responded to a notice of violation issued by North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality concerning several sewer discharges in July and August of last year.
The notice dated January 23, concerns "self-reported Sanitary Sewer Overflows" submitted by the Town. The letter from James H. Gregson with the Division of Water Quality states, "The Division's Wilmington Regional Office concludes that the Town of Carolina Beach violated" a permit condition, "by failing to effectively manage, maintain, and operate their collection system so that there is no SSO (Sanitary Sewer Overflow) to the land or surface waters and the SSO constituted making an outlet to waters of the State."
The letter states, "The Wilmington Regional Office is providing the Town... an additional opportunity to provide evidence and justification as to why the Town... should not be assessed a civil penalty for the violations."
The letter lists three events. The first was on July 29, 2012 for "Discharge without valid permit" for sewer manholes on Lewis Drive in the "Pump Station #6" service area.
Another violation occurred on August 1, 2012 for ten manholes in the "Pump Station #1 Service Area."
The third event was on August 1, 2012 again on Lewis Drive for "Discharge without valid permit" for sanitary sewer overflow.
The letter states, "Spills within the Pump Station #6 Lewis Drive service area have been an issue for many years, but we have had four reported incidents since August 27, 2011. Likewise, the same situation applies to the service area for the main Pump Station #1" area at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, "on Raleigh Street with three incidents having occurred since August 27, 2011 and at least one after the station was replaced in early 2012."
The letter states, "The Town was to conduct smoke testing within these areas in late August-early September following the last reported event and present the information to our office. To date, this has not occurred." The notice of violation requests the Town provide additional documentation within 15 days of receiving the notice and, "The submittal will be reviewed to determine if a civil penalty assessment by the Division's Regional Office is warranted. If the violations are of a continuing nature, not related to operation and/or maintenance problems, and you anticipate remedial construction activities, then you may wish to consider applying for a Special Order by Consent."
Carolina Beach Public Utilities Director Gene Gurganious responded to the notice on February 15. In a letter to Gregson, Gurganious explained, "It is the feeling of the Town of Carolina Beach staff that these sanitary sewer overflows were a direct result of an uncontrollable act of nature. Both events were a result of flooding caused by extremely high tides and heavy rains in the area."
Gurganious explained that on July 29, 2012, the overflow for sewer lift station #6 on Lewis Drive was the result of high tides and heavy rain. He wrote, "Approximately 2.6" of rain in 2.5 hours added 1' to 2' of flooding in some areas resulting from high tides."
Gurganious wrote that again on August 1, 2012 overflows were caused by approximately 3.9" of rain in four hours to 3.25" of rain from 8:30am 9:30am, added 1' to 2' of flooding in some areas resulting from high tides.
Gurganios explained, "Since these events we have completed a thorough I&I (Inflow and Infiltration) Study which included the areas referenced in" the notice of violation. He explained results of that study had been forwarded to Gregson's office and prior to the notice of violation staff was unaware, "That this was required/requested, resulting in the delay."
Gurganios explained, "Staff is currently working to correct the smaller issues which can be accomplished in house. We are also preparing cost analysis of larger repairs needed for presentation to Town Council for approval to pursue financing options. Staff has also been actively surveying problem areas before, during and after rain events in efforts to locate potential problems. We have located and corrected one such problem... responsible for several hundred gallons per minute if inflow directly impacting Lift Station #6. Issues at this station have been minimal since this problem was corrected."
Gurganious explained the Town should not be assessed a civil penalty because of the issues he noted in his response.
Lewis Drive runs between Saint Joseph Street and North Lake Park Blvd. Inflow and Infiltration is when water, typically rain, enters the sewer system causing a burden on that system.

UPDATE: Following publication of this report in the printed edition on Wednesday February 27, on Thursday February 28, Mayor Bob Lewis sent an email to Interim Manager Bruce Shell, Planning Director Ed Parvin and Town Council stating, "I think we need a process in place when we have a overflow release due to flooding or storms.  We need to immediately prepare a response and plan of action for the NCENR.  We know this is going to happen again it would make sense to have a response format ready and to respond on time and we should begin to develop plans to help mitigate issues where we have the most problems. The editor just made it look like our town staff ignores the issues and we are looking at a civil fine.  We also should only have the town manager or assistant manager responding to the press inquiries going forward after an assessment of the situation is reviewed.  We know when the incident occurs as we report it so we should have a response prepared and get out in front of the issues. It appears from the paper that we did not respond to inquiries from the NCENR and it does not look like we know what we are doing in regards to these issues.  I know it may only be perception but without the facts perception becomes reality for the general population."

Click here to view the letter sent to the Town by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality.

Click here to view the Town's letter responding to the notice.