Wastewater managers across Western North Carolina were penalized more than 50 times for spills and overflows across the 18 westernmost counties in a 12-month period, a review of state documents shows.
Based on data Carolina Public Press reviewed and verified from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, state environmental regulators issued 51 penalties to 24 different public and private wastewater management entities between June 2012 and June 2013 across the region. The fines given by the agency totaled $44,371.82.
Of these, the top public violators of their permits were Buncombe County Schools and the city of Marion. The top three private violators were A & D Water Service in Henderson County, Mizpah Healthcare assisted living homes in Henderson County and the Pavillon Treatment Center in Polk County.
The largest single fine, of $6,137, in Western North Carolina was issued to the Metropolitan Sewage District of Buncombe County for the nearly 6 million-gallon spill into the French Broad River on April 30, 2013. Buncombe County Schools was fined five times, totaling an original penalty of $7,404.
State environmental regulators, however, granted remission of three of these fines at North Buncombe High in light of “Special Order Consideration,” an agreement for remedial actions with established time lines. According to Buncombe County Schools, the actual fine paid by the school system was reduced to two smaller fines for Leicester and Fairview Elementary, a total of $834.
As required by the 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act, any entity that plans to discharge a form of wastewater directly to a body of water must receive a federal permit issued and enforced by the state. The permits are part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. In North Carolina, DENR’s Division of Water Quality approves the permits and ensures compliance.Read the full article