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Melting Snow Causes Problems For Wastewater Treatment Plants

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HENDERSON — The snowfall and its melting are causing problems for wastewater treatment plants. In the past week, two plants north of the Triangle have combined for hundreds of gallons of spilled waste.

Untreated wastewater is still flowing out ofHenderson'sRed Bud station into a creek that eventually feeds into the Tar River. It has been flowing since the winter storm hit the area.

Tom Spain, Henderson's wastewater plant director, says melting snow has overwhelmed the pump station, even though the city has pumped half a million dollars of improvements into it.

"It is frustrating, but it's the way things happen when you work with wastewater in sewer lands," Spain said. "We've got 110 miles in town of sewer land."

Oxfordsays its wastewater plant has also had overflows because of the melting snow. Both Oxford's and Henderson's problems with melting snow did not come as a the surprise to theDivision of Water Quality.

"Oxford has had problems with its wastewater treatment plant," says Ernie Seneca of the state's Division of Water Quality. "We hit them with a record fine not too long ago. It seems like every time it rains, Red Bud has a problem."

The state expects other wastewater plants, especially those hit hard by Hurricane Floyd, may also experience problems with the melting snow. Waste lagoons used for either municipal or livestock purposes also have water quality inspectors concerned.

"Their lagoons are filling up, and they have had the land apply on snow-covered fields and such," Seneca said. "There is concern about when the snow melts, there could be runoff."

The state inspectors are so concerned that they are doing flyovers across eastern North Carolina to see how bad the situation could be.


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