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Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past when discussing the proposed waste water pipeline

By Tom Glendinning
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - We do not have a Jordan Lake uptake station because the commissioners at the time had a prejudice against Chapel Hill which may have extended to any government outside Chatham, including the federal agencies involved in placing the lake here. The stated reason was that we did not need the water.

Scare tactics have been used to make the argument against the water line. "Sewage, breaks in the lines, outside government takeover, laws to stop land condemnation, imminent domain" indeed. Take a deep breath. Meditate. Think.

The water quality will be better than that of the Haw River/Cape Fear. The wastewater recycling plant provides tertiary treatment of wastewater effluent from the WWTP in Holly Springs, Morrisville, Apex and SE Cary. It is the same technology that London uses to treat its wastewater and make discharges above its water intakes seven times before the water leaves the city boundaries. No brown trout floating into our river.

Taking the cooperative approach to resolving the WWP issues, we could ask for a small portion of the treated water allotment which would allow as many as 20,000 homes in eastern Chatham. (Alternately, that could be a mix of homes, industry and commerce.) This tax base projected at present costs, may allow a sixty percent increase in tax base and a fifty percent increase in tax revenue over the next thirty to forty years. The land in that portion of the county does not favor permits anywhere near that quantity. That land is also the most prime location for such development. All it needs is proper sewage treatment. Water is already available. Development is imminent. We need that revenue to pay for the profligate borrowing of the last four years. Past commissions never borrowed (via bonds) more than 20 % to 50 % percent of annual revenue to fund projects. Credit card fever has invaded our government. We have borrowed 180 % of our annual revenue. We must pay for it somehow.

In 1995, in Vicki McConnell's report in the annual audit, out manufacturing employment was 47 % of total county employment. Today it is lass than 10 %. Those jobs are not coming back. Manufacturing will never be a significant part of the tax base or employment. Development has built our tax base for the last twenty years. That industry must be a part to our future plans. It is paying the bills now.

Whether we stand by and pass up the opportunity is the main question, in my opinion. We could be left standing in the dust as we were when the US Army Corps and the state asked us if we wanted water from Jordan.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for we could never afford the $ 400,000,000 the project will cost. We have not even sat down at the table with WWP to see what we can do for the citizens of Chatham. At least give negotiation a chance. At the moment, we are not the red headed stepchild of the Triangle and Raleigh. But we could be again if we take the approach of the 1978 commissioners when they refused a water allotment from and an intake station at Jordan.

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Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past when discussing the proposed waste water pipeline

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