Published: Jan 01, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 31, 2012 12:14 PM
Several environmental groups want the Army Corps of Engineers to take a particularly close look at Southern Durham Development’s plan for a sewer line to serve its 751 South project.
In a December letter to Scott McLendon, regulatory chief at the Corps’ Wilmington office, officials of the Haw River Assembly, the Northeast Creek Stream Watch, New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee and Clean Water for North Carolina asked the Corps to require the developers to obtain a stringent Individual Permit to cross Corps land in southern Durham County.
The Individual Permit involves “a much higher level of environmental scrutiny” than the Nationwide Permit for projects that have minimal effect on water resources, said Elaine Chiosso, executive director of the Haw River Assembly. The letter also asks that the public have a chance to comment on a permit application.
“They read our letter,” Chiosso said. “And (they) said they will be paying attention to any application that comes in.”
The Durham Open Space and Trails Commission has added its support in a separate letter to the Corps office, further asking the Corps perform an environmental assessment for the sewer line.
Southern Durham Development has not applied to the Corps yet, but the Durham County commissioners have agreed to provide sewer service to the proposed village-sized subdivision from its Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant on N.C. 55.
The most direct connection between the plant and the 751 South site on N.C. 751 would involve a four-mile pipeline crossing several Jordan Lake tributaries, sensitive wetlands and a state Natural Heritage site, and more than a mile of Corps property.
One of the tributaries, Northeast Creek, and Jordan Lake itself are designated as “impaired” waters, and the state has ordered local governments throughout the Jordan watershed to meet stringent new standards for cleaning up and protecting the lake.
Southern Durham Development says its project, which would include up to 1,300 residences and 600,000 square feet of commercial space, would meet all required standards for water quality, but opponents claim that 751 South would nevertheless add pollution.
“Not only would the impact of building and servicing a pipeline in this sensitive aquatic area need to be considered but also the very real possibility of future sewer pipe breaks and leaks,” Chiosso said. The letter cites three sewage spills, totaling 37,600 gallons, from the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant described in its 2010-11 performance report.
“We sent the letter to alert the Corps to these issues,” Chiosso said.