The owners of a 200-year-old farm along the Lower Little River near Spring Lake are opposed to plans to run more than six miles of sewer line near the river, saying it could damage the area around the river. Negotiations between the two sides have delayed the project by at least seven months.
Tom Brooks, whose family has worked the sprawling McCormick Farms since 1793, said the family signed a conservation easement with Cumberland County two years ago to protect the Lower Little River where it cuts through the farm.
"I'm concerned this project is going to destroy those values," Brooks said, referring to a $42.5 million wastewater treatment project for the area.
Harnett County plans to replace four aging treatment plants at Fort Bragg, Spring Lake, Coopers Lake and Carolina Trace over the next year to handle the expected growth in the area that will be driven by base realignment. The project includes $12.3 million for a new treatment plant and $30.2 million to run several miles of sewer line.
The federal government is paying $26.5 million to the county for handling about 10 million gallons of wastewater a day from Fort Bragg.
The map below shows a portion of the proposed sewer line, which comes out of Fort Bragg and follows Manchester Road and then the Lower Little River to a new pumping station east of McCormick Bridge Road that will feed the new treatment plant on Shady Grove Road.
Laying the sewer lines close to the river is more efficient since gravity would help move wastewater through the lines, said Rodney Tart, director of Harnett County's Department of Public Utilities. Brooks and his relatives want officials to use a forced main and go around the river instead.
"With the route McCormick Farms wanted, it would have been an additional $1 million," Tart said. "(Under) the environmental rules with the state of North Carolina and the federal regulations, you have to have a certain amount of buffer (around the river), and we have met that in our design."
Brooks said he and his family know the sewer lines need to come through, but he said they wish progress didn't cost so much.
"It would be a shame to, just a few years later, turn around and dig up everything you agreed to protect," he said.
Copyright 2022 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.