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State Wants Towns to Help Prevent Sewage Spills

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ROCKY MOUNT — Cities all over the state are being told to help prevent sewage spills. Most leaks are caused by faulty sewer lines, and the state wants more inspections done. Failing to follow the new rules could be costly.

Some places are using sewer lines that have been in the ground since the turn of the century.

As of Thursday, every city has to keep a close check on its sewer lines and be able to prove it is. The state is prepared to fine towns that fall down on the job.

Thousands of miles of sewer lines wind through North Carolina. That is why a spill can pop up just about anywhere.

The state wants to make sure the pipes connecting houses to the treatment plants work.

That means cities have to do specific checks of their sewer pipes, and that is already done in cities likeRocky Mount. About the only thing changing there is how the results are recorded.

"The state asked that we formalize programs, so we went in and wrote procedures and basically said on paper what we were doing on a routine basis," said Paul Blount ofRocky Mount public works.

The new law will have the biggest impact on smaller towns like Nashville. Public Works director Ed White has eight people who can do inspections, but they already have a long list of other duties.

"Instead of using them in a lot of other things as we have to do in a small town, we'll definitely have to commit certain personnel to it," said White.

Each community is expected to foot the bill, but the state is making grants and loans available to help.

It will be extra work for some areas, but some local leaders say prevention is the cheapest and best way to handle the problem.

"It doesn't look good if you let it spill and then say 'We cleaned it up,' because the obvious question is 'Why didn't you do something to keep it from spilling in the first place?'" said White.

The fines will vary, depending on the work done.


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