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Oxford Ordered to Stop Expansion Until It Cleans Up Sewage Problem

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OXFORD — Cities and towns are trying to find the best solution to handle growth. Oxford is a small city, but theState Division of Water Qualityhas placed a moratorium on theGranvillecounty seat that bans all new development in the city that requires extending sewer lines.

The problem is at the city's sewage plant. The state says the plant is operating beyond capacity, uses faulty machinery, and spills partially treated sewage into a popular fishing creek.

"We are going to fix it immediately," says city manager Tommy Marrow. "The plans are being drawn, and we'll construct it immediately."

By fixing it, Marrow says the town will spend $700,000 for a new sludge-holding processing tank. The fix will take six to eight months, but for now extending new water and sewer service to new construction is banned.

"It may have some short-term impact on growth," Marrow said. "We do have the ability for connections to existing sewer lines. What the moratorium does is restrict the city from extending new water and sewer lines to potential development areas."

In downtown Oxford, economic developers say their efforts will not be hurt by the development ban.

"I'm not worried at all," says Linda Sigmon, the economic development director. "Our downtown is extremely healthy, and of course the infrastructure is in place downtown. All of our spaces are full right now. We don't have a single spot in downtown to put another shop."

Too little water or too much waste has forced several towns in and around the Triangle to stop building.

Caryis not accepting building applications for at least another three weeks because it does not have the water.

Apex, Carrboro and Morrisville have all halted building at one time or another during the past year because of concerns the towns were outgrowing their resources.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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