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Summit of all county governing boards was a good thing

By Efrain A. Ramirez Jr.
Posted Friday, January 30, 2004

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Congratulations to the Chatham County Commissioners.

I commend Chair Tommy Emerson and the Chatham County Commissioners, plus the mayors of Goldston, Pittsboro and Siler City, their respective Board of Commissioners, town managers and attorneys, for pulling together the second summit of all the county governing bodies. I believe the first was some seven years ago under the auspices & sponsorship of the Strategic Plan Development Committee (SPDC), which was appointed by Commissioners then in office to develop a Strategic Plan for growth in Chatham County. Some twenty citizen residents of Chatham labored for over two years, under chair Howard Steer, to bring forth a plan for Chatham's future.

I was impressed with the discussion that developed last night. Well thought and seemingly on the way towards finally doing some thing to prepare for Chatham's future. The most important segment concerned potable water and the need to distribute water throughout the county. However, the treatment of waste water seemed an after thought. I have heard from that many wells in the western and southwestern part of the county are no longer good. There was also an implication that septic systems in some area did not or could no longer perc, with potential for overflow.

Then of course, we have septic spray fields for "new towns" of 2500 homes & more (that was not on the agenda). Plus the super green, super fertilized golf courses in expensive gated communities, potentially draining into sources of fresh water. These sources could then also become super green with algae and other pollutants. Sometimes we appear to overlook that we sit in the midst of a great basin, consisting of the Haw, Deep, Rocky Rivers, that meet at Jordan Lake, a source of drinking water and recreation for many; which then flows on to become the Cape Fear. Waste(s) and treated waste water dumped up river in Greensboro etc. is drunk by the residents of Pittsboro and Bynum, after the water is treated by Pittsboro, who then dumps their treated waste into Jordan Lake via Robeson Creek; and so on, and so on, down river. We also sit in the middle of a rural, agricultural area, with animal rearing and breeding and growing. Livestock contributes waste, which is spread among the fields for fertilization of crops, along with chemical fertilizers. We have large stack industries that spew tons of solids into the air. What goes up must come down. This also ends up in our water sources.

A need for economic development was on the agenda. This is really important for our county. How can Chatham attract industry for economic development; expand existing industries (such as poultry which uses half of Siler City's daily water supply) and not plan first on how to treat drinking water and the resulting waste water (solids too). To me, massive residential development, more water for every one (and there is definitely a need) before determining what you are going to do with the waste is doing things backwards.

The main issues should be physical infrastructure (waste water and solid waste treatment and disposal), in addition to an expanded & improved potable water supply, plus economic development. Then we can consider more housing, requiring more and better schools, plus other necessary social infrastructure such as public safety, health care, recreation, etc.

Seems the NC DOT is already taking care of expanding the road network. This will lead to more commercial development such as strip malls and more big box stores, with intersections and traffic and traffic lights; resulting in even more traffic and traffic lights. That is progress, that is growth and taxes.

It's coming to a Chatham near you.

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Summit of all county governing boards was a good thing
Will Chatham have enough water for future needs?

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