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WWTP expansion ahead of schedule

MURFREESBORO – “It’s a $4 million sight.”

That was Murfreesboro Assistant Public Works Director Ben Warren’s declaration to the town council on Tuesday evening.

Council members and citizens alike were updated on the town’s waste water treatment plant expansion project which began on June 23.

Warren, who also wears the hat of Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator, has seen that $4 million “sight” grow from its infancy.

As of late, Warren has worn the latter hat a lot more.

“I feel like I’ve been working in a desert all summer,” he said on Thursday as he gave a tour of the sandy site to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

Warren was quick to add that the sandy soil is ideal for waste water treatment plants.

The overall project is now 55 percent complete, with a new holding lagoon already constructed and in use, with work being done on a new spray field and also the existing spray field.

It’s been a 14-year need for the town.

The lack of growth of the waste water treatment plant has meant the lack of expansion for the town via a state issued moratorium, preventing the town from taking on new customers.

Working with Bobby Blowe of North Carolina Construction, Loans and Grants and Engineer Robert Graham with George Finch/Boney and Associates, the town was able to obtain a loan and begin the process of expanding the plant and working to get the moratorium lifted.

Located on US 258 just north of town, the waste water treatment plant consisted of two storage lagoons and a 77 acre spray field located almost a mile down the road.

The plant sits on 700 acres of land that was purchased by the town some years back.

Warren said with the addition of a new 18-acre storage lagoon and an additional spray field will allow the plant to increase by one-third of its present-day capacity.

As of now the new lagoon and one of the existing lagoons are being used as another is being drained, cleaned and re-lined. The other existing lagoon will go through the same process.

Warren said two of the lagoons must be in operation at all times in order for the plant to operate.

A crew with Benchmark Buildings and Irrigation, Inc. of Murfreesboro are currently working on a 32-acre site where a new spray field will help harvest pines for the town.

Down the road, at the existing spray field crews from CAB Construction of Conway are creating four large ditches and pipes to collect ground water.

Two new ground water monitoring wells will also be placed at the site to test the water that is being expelled by the system.

Bermuda grass is grown at this site to be harvested for horse feed.

The two sites that are nearly a mile away from each other are connected only by 7,600 linear feet of pipes.

Warren said people know little about the self-sustaining system that helps their households and town function every day.

After natural bacteria breaks down the waste in the storage lagoons, the water is treated with chorine gas and piped to the spray field where it is released.

As for sticking to a set schedule, Warren said things are looking up.

“We’re actually ahead of schedule,” he said. “We’ve only used 40 percent of our scheduled contract days.”

Warren said the lack of rain, all though bad for farmers, has helped the project’s construction.

The project is slated to be finished by February 18, 2008.