18th Jan: CALYPSO - Concern that waste generated by a new Case Farms feed mill might push the town of Calypso over its sewer limit has delayed construction of the project until engineers can satisfy state regulators.
Duplin County Economic Development Director Woody Brinson said he found out Friday that the state rejected the project's sewer permit, which would prevent the new mill from connecting to Mount Olive's regional sewer system.
Engineers with Hobbs Upchurch and Associates, the company overseeing the project to bring water and sewer service to the mill, took bids and was ready to recommend awarding the contract to Empire Construction Co. in Winterville when officials discovered the job could not proceed under the requested sewer permit.
The project is on hold until the engineers can get Calypso a new permit. State engineers have told Calypso officials they can hook up the water, but not the sewer, because of concerns that the waste generated by the mill will push the town over the state-imposed capacity limit.
The state Division of Water Quality refused to issue the first permit because Mount Olive is still under a Special Order of Consent, which allows the town to take only 25,000 gallons of sewage a day from Calypso into its treatment plant.
The permit application for the new Case Farms feed milll, which is close to Calypso, projects 8,500 gallons a day, which raised state officials' concern that the additional load would take the Mount Olive treatment plant over that limit.
Calypso's last bill from the town of Mount Olive was for 28 days worth of sewer treatment for an average of a little more than 10,000 gallons a day. However, state officials said the slow pace of local hookups could pose a problem if a large number of residents decide to join the system, thus pushing its waste generation over the 25,000 limit.
Town officials said they will send out a letter soon notifying those residents who have not tied into the system that the hook-ups will be mandatory by July 1. That will give them a better idea of what the capacity needs will be.
The letter from the Water Quality Division said the projected volume needed to serve Calypso was expected to eventually reach more than 89,000 gallons a day.
"It is our understanding that construction of the system is continuing, but only a portion has been certified and activated nearly a year ago," state officials said in the letter. "Please provide our office with an update on this system including an updated map showing the entire system with areas highlighted that have been constructed, have been certified and have been activated, as well as a report showing the daily average volume collected each month since activation and transmitted to Mount Olive."
The permit denial is just bureaucracy, Mount Olive Mayor Ruff Huggins said. He said a few thousand gallons can't stop the industry, adding that he and town officials just need to talk to the Water Quality officials to reassure them that the sewer capacity concerns will be addressed.
Brinson said the low bidder is already on site doing work at Case Farms, and the engineers will ask that company to extend its bid past Feb. 20.
Once the work starts, Brinson said it will take about six months to build the lines and hook the feed mill into the Mount Olive system.
He added that the engineers hope to have the job finished by October, although the permit delay could slow the project.