Local News

Pittsboro, 3M Team Up to Find Drought Solution

Posted December 21, 2007 5:13 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2007 5:48 p.m. EST

— Pittsboro and 3M, a technology company with a global reach, are teaming up to find at least one creative solution to the water shortage facing the town.

Town officials want certain customers to be able to buy treated wastewater from Pittsboro's waste water treatment plant, instead of from the Chatham County system. County water customers have been under tightened Stage 3-B water restrictions since late October.

3M officials believe that the company's factory in Pittsboro would be a prime candidate for such an arrangement. Plant manager Tony Aulisa said the factory uses between 50,000 and 60,000 gallons of water a day to cool down granules being dyed for use in roof tiles.

"You don't have to treat the water to a drinking level. You can use something less than that," Aulisa said.

Officials said it would cost the town millions to run a pipe to 3M, but would be worth it for the benefits to industry, growth and the environment. The state must give its approval to any arrangement reached by Pittsboro and 3M.

Other water customers could also use the treated waste water – and at half the cost for potable water, Mayor Randolph Voller said.

"People don't want to be paying huge amounts of dollars for potable water to wash cars when they can be using reuse water for far cheaper," Voller said.

The deal could pave the way for new development in Pittsboro after a moratorium on residential subdivisions with 25 or more building lots or housing units has lingered for 20 months.

The ban was issued because the waste water treatment plant is at near capacity. Selling some of the water could free up space.

"It really is the right thing from a community standpoint, environmental standpoint and an industrial standpoint," Aulisa said.