Hoke County News Article – NEW sewer plant to generate growth

The following article was printed September 3rd in the News-Journal published in Raeford & Hoke County

Sewer plant will address Hoke growth

By Catharin Shepard

Staff writer


It took more than six years of meetings, phone calls and paperwork to get the golden groundbreaking shovels in Hoke County officials’ hands at the site of the new wastewater treatment plant, but if all goes as planned, one ceremonial shovelful of dirt could turn into much more future construction. Representatives from government agencies, engineering and construction companies and local organizations took part in the sewer plant groundbreaking last week to mark what officials have long counted on as a turning point for commercial and industrial growth in Hoke. It’s been a long road to get from the idea of building a sewer plant to seeing dirt moving on the site, County Manager Tim Johnson said. “Next Thursday will be exactly six years since the first sewer meeting I had in Hoke County,” he said. In the beginning the county had high hopes that the project could move quickly, the county manager recalled .“I remember there were two board members that were in that meeting, Commissioner (Tony) Hunt and Chairman (James) Leach, and they said, we want to get this done in the next year-and-a-half or two years. I remember saying that shouldn’t be a problem. I apologize,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd of dignitaries at the groundbreaking. Many elected officials and government agencies worked on the project to help the county secure funding and permission to build the plant.

There were also many other sewer line improvements that had to be made before the treatment plant could become a reality, Johnson said.“We’ve worked hard and we’ve had to do a lot of little sub-projects in the way to keep things moving. It took a long time and we had to do a lot of modifications, but with a lot of help from our friends, we’ve got this thing going,” he said.The project as a whole has a price tag of about $18 million. Around half of that is for the treatment plant itself while the rest goes to pay for the lines and pump stations. “That’s a big project for a county the size of Hoke,” Johnson said.The sewer plant will work using a system design called a sequencing batch reactor (SBR). SBR plants work by using mechanical and biological methods of separating, removing and disposing of sewage sludge. One part of the plant, known as the digester, uses microorganisms to break down the sludge after it’s mechanically separated from the wastewater.

The plant will be able to process 1.5 million gallons of wastewater a day, which is more than enough to handle Hoke’s current needs, officials said. The idea is to leave room for additional customers to hook up to the system in the future, whether they are new subdivisions using sewer service instead of septic tanks or businesses setting up shop in the county.Hoke’s zoning ordinance has stipulations that require certain projects, like subdivisions, that are built in particular areas to agree to hook on to the sewer service. The plant will also provide service for several large facilities, including the new Sandy Grove Middle School and both the Cape Fear Valley and FirstHealth hospitals.The finished system will include 25,000 feet of 8-inch and 14-inch force main pipes and 30,000 feet of 24-inch and 30-inch gravity sewer pipelines. That represents a pipe system of over 10 miles in the current utilities project alone, not counting any of the previous water line expansions.

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Published by Angie Hedgepeth

Angie Hedgepeth, Government Affairs Director for the Association, attends all the local meetings each month, as well as NAR and NCAR meetings, and keeps members abreast of the multiple issues being addressed in local, state and national government. She prepares reports on the meetings she attends and they are included in the weekly "Government Affairs Update".