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April 2012

New Rates and Fees Proposed

On April 11, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department presented its FY2013 budget proposal to the Charlotte City Council. The proposal includes a modest increase in water and sewer rates and fees to help cover cost increases in the prices of fuel, power and what the utility owes to pay back construction debt. For a typical 8 ccf customer, the total proposed increase is $3.30 per month.


Much more information about the budget is available on the department's website, including a copy of the latest Guide to Understanding Rates and Your Bill as well as the presentation given to City Council. 

Rates and fees charged for water and sewer use – not tax dollars – are the sole funding source for the
Department. City Council will consider the proposal and make a final decision in June. 
Help Prevent Sewer Spills

If you've been following the news, you may have heard about a recent sewer spill that caused no fishing notices at Park Road Park. That spill, like 60% of the total each year, was caused by kitchen grease that clogged our sewer line.
When grease clogs the lines, untreated wastewater enters our waterways. 

Please remember to properly dispose of your cooking oil, leftover food, paper towels, baby wipes and other items by not putting them down the drain.
 
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February 2012

Spruce Up Your Irrigation System This Spring

Checking your irrigation system before spring and summer irrigation season is an important part of making sure water is used efficiently and also helps save on your monthly bill. Follow the tips below to keep your irrigation season in top shape. Also, be sure to check out the Smart Irrigation Controller Incentive that goes into effect July 1.
  • Test the in-ground irrigation system backflow prevention assembly, sprinklers and spray heads to ensure they work properly. Fix leaks, drips and broken equipment.
  • Make sure sprinklers are directed away from paved surfaces.
  • Set irrigation timers to a sensible schedule to avoid runoff or invest in a Smart Irrigation Controller.

      North Tryon Water Tower

      Crews are currently cleaning and repainting the North Tryon Street Elevated Water Storage Tank (near Tom Hunter Road). CMUD routinely repairs and paints the 11 elevated storage tanks located in Mecklenburg County. Construction will be complete in Spring 2012.
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      January 2012

       

      Winterize Your Plumbing and Avoid Pipe Breaks
       
      While winter has been mostly mild so far this year in Charlotte, it is important that property owners winterize plumbing to prevent pipe breaks and reduce energy costs. 

      • Insulate pipes in unheated parts of your home. Reduce energy costs by insulating your hot water heater as well. Insulation materials are available at your local hardware store.
      • Safeguard against frozen pipes and seal openings and air leaks in your crawl space or basement.  
        Use cardboard, plastic or newspaper to seal air vents if needed.
      • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses and irrigation systems. Make sure outside spigots are off and 
        insulated.If you own a backflow prevention assembly, contact CMUD backflow staff at 311 for more tips to properly winterize your system.
         

      CMUD in the News

      WFAE's Julie Rose recently produced an in-depth profile of the McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

      Done in advance of the submission of an environmental impact statement to the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a proposed wastewater plant on Long Creek, the profile walks the listener through the treatment process and includes key information about some of the requirements in place for nitrogen and phosphorus discharge at McDowell.
        
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      December 2011
       
      City Council Approves Upgrade to Irwin Creek

      Charlotte City Council approved a contract with Crowder Construction at its meeting on Monday, December 12, to begin upgrades to the Irwin Creek wastewater treatment plant.

      The $20.8 million project involves rebuilding a significant portion of the structures and equipment on the site. A second phase of improvements to this plant is scheduled to follow this work in about 18 months. The project is financed with revenue bonds which are repaid with wastewater customer fees. CMUD is not funded by property taxes.

      "While we have expanded the plant many times since it was constructed in the 1920s, much of the equipment and structures are decades old and in need of rehabilitation to ensure that the plant can safely treat wastewater," said Barry Gullet, director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department. "As a utility, we are moving from growth mode to maintenance mode and this project is very much a part of that shift in our focus."

      For much more about the project,
      read the news release.

      Transmitter Project Under Way

      Over the last 18 months, CMUD has worked to implement a new corporate culture that includes proactively examining processes, systems and procedures in an effort to continuously improve overall customer service performance at the utility.

      This shift includes ongoing meter equipment audits coupled with new pre-billing procedures put in place to verify and confirm billing accuracy. Due to these internal quality assurance process changes, CMUD identified the potential for a certain model of electronic meter transmitters to fail in the field.

      The potential malfunctions are related to a particular batch of electronic components used by the manufacturer during a certain time period. We are able to identify the locations where this equipment is installed through the serial numbers of the equipment.
       
      Customers that have one of these transmitters as a part of their overall water meter equipment box will have it replaced over the next few months and will be notified via a letter about the replacement. During this change out procedure, steps will be taken to confirm that the water usage sent by the transmitter to the billing system matches what is on the mechanical register at the meter. If there is a discrepancy that favors the customer, then a billing adjustment will be made.

      For more, visit the transmitter replacement section of our website.

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      November 2011
       
      Protect the Environment this Holiday Season

      Fats, oils, grease, dairy products and other foods clog your plumbing and lead to expensive repairs when poured down kitchen sinks. Clogs can also happen when dishes aren’t properly cleaned before putting them in the dishwasher.
       
      CMUD is asking customers to take special care this holiday season when cooking to properly dispose of waste.

      When grease goes down the drain, your pipes and the pipes on the street become blocked as the grease hardens and makes it impossible for untreated sewage to flow to treatment plants.  Eventually this raw sewage with nowhere else to go overflows from manholes and ends up in our streams and creeks.
      Kitchen grease isn’t the only household item to block sewer lines. Baby wipes, paper towels, mail and medication are also items that should never go down drains.

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      October 2011

      CMUD Honors Local Firms

      CMUD honored 37 local companies this month for environmental excellence in protecting our community's water quality this past month.

      The award winners are among more than 60 permitted industrial users that discharge high-strength wastewater into the city’s wastewater system. Environmental Excellence Award winners have complied with their pollution discharge requirements, have cooperated fully with CMUD, and have exhibited a proactive and innovative approach to protecting water quality.
       
      Trane of Charlotte was honored with the first ever Platinum Award achieving 100 percent compliance for 5 consecutive years. Cargill, Inc., was also honored for water conservation efforts that cut their monthly water usage in half. A full list of winners can be found in the news release.  
       
      Aquatic Weeds Under Control

      In February, City Council approved changes to the CMUD rate structure. The biggest changes customers will For more than 15 years, CMUD and its partners at Duke Energy, NC DENR and the City of Gastonia have worked to remove an invasive plant species – hydrilla – by stocking Mountain Island Lake with carp. This non-chemical approach has proven not only environmentally friendly but very effective. Click here to learn much more about this program.
       
      Long Creek Update Meeting

      On October 27 CMUD held an update meeting for the proposed Long Creek Wastewater treatment plant stakeholder group regarding recent changes in the status of the project. The meeting included representatives from groups such as the Catawba Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, American & Efird, Clariant and other local governments.
       
      The update meeting follows work that was initiated in 2007-2008 to find a collaborative, regional approach to wastewater treatment in the area after a master plan identified the need for a new facility to serve the western portion of the county.  
       
      New Water Treatment Resevoir

      The construction of a new raw water reservoir is nearing completion at the Franklin Water Treatment plant.

      The reservoir is an enlargement of two smaller reservoirs into a single large one with a capacity of 250 million gallons, and joins an existing reservoir in use on the site. This will give the plant a total of 500 million gallons of storage on-site and increase operational flexibility. The total cost was $20 million.