Belhaven to limit sewer expansion
Board wants to fix problems in town first
By PETER WILLIAMS
Eastern Beaufort County residents living outside Belhaven won’t be allowed to connect to its sewer system until the town can repair or replace the aging pipes that leak waste into the streets every time there is a heavy rain.
The town board made the decision Monday night during its regular March meeting.
The moratorium isn’t due to the capacity of the town’s sewage-treatment plant, Mayor Adam O’Neal said Wednesday. The plant can treat 1 million gallons a day, and the routine flow is less than 400,000 gallons. The problem lies with leaks in the lines that allow stormwater to infiltrate the distribution system when it rains. That combination of water and sewage overloads the system.
Beaufort County officials have been working with Belhaven to get grants that would allow the extension of the Belhaven system into unincorporated areas around Belhaven. Some septic tanks in the Pantego area have failed, and connecting to a central sewer system is the best possible solution, according to County Manager Paul Spruill.
There are 174 residents near Pantego that have already planned to tap into the system that will be allowed to do so, based on Monday’s vote. So will Terra Ceia Christian Academy. Any other out-of-town customers will have to wait, O’Neal said.
O’Neal said he understands the plight of county residents, but said Belhaven simply has to get a grip on its own problems first.
Beaufort County recently provided Belhaven with $300,000 as an impact fee for the 174 new customers that would be hooking into the Belhaven system.
O’Neal said he has no idea of the cost to fix the Belhaven sewer system, but said it would be “several million dollars.”
Spruill called the issue “a 50-year-old problem” that the current Belhaven board has inherited.
The sewer extension to Pantego, a $3.2 million project, is nearly complete, according Spruill. The county is within two weeks of issuing the order to proceed with a second project that would serve Terra Ceia.
The bypass would build a sewer line independent of the existing network and channel the sewage from out-of-town customers directly to the sewage plant and bypass the leaking lines in downtown Belhaven.