A professor from North Carolina State University will begin a study of Walnut Cove’s wetland waste water treatment system this summer after being given permission to do so by the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners last week.
Michael Burchell told the board that the town’s wetlands are a unique system which he feels could be a model for other water treatment processes throughout the state.
“I have been working in the area of wetlands for 15 years,’ said Burchell. “There are only four or five of this type of wetland in the entire state.”
He said that while Walnut Cove’s system was operating very efficiently after 20 years of use, there was not a lot of concrete data comparing what comes into the system to the eventual outflows.
“If I can prove that these types of systems can be used in more rural communities to help towns meet there needs then we actually may be able to see an improvement in our state’s overall water quality,” said Burchell. “But before I can advocate for that I need to document what a wetlands that works really does and how well it really works. I am asking for your help to allow me to do a pretty intensive study on a great system.”
Burchell said he had some existing grant funding to study the system for a couple of months this summer and hopes that the resulting data would allow him to seek further funding for a more complete study, one that could take several years.
“Then we can predict how to build them elsewhere,” he said. “That is my ultimate goal.”
Burchell said that in return for allowing him to study the system he would share any data he obtains with the town and also connect the town with other municipalities using similar systems so they can compare what does and does not work.
Town to expand sewer
Last week the Walnut Cove commissioners also agreed to expand its sewer line to a mobile home park on Martin Luther King Road owned by John Parsons.
The decision came after a lengthy discussion on how to charge for the expansion of the service after Town Manager Bobby Miller told the board that Parsons was in an emergency situation after issues had arisen with the existing septic system serving the five mobile homes.
Initially Miller had proposed charging one tap fee and charging for a single service for the site saying that with that plan the town could recoup its $4,220 investment to expand the service within two years.
But after questions of fairness were raised by audience members the board ultimately decided to charge a tap fee and install meters for each mobile home, which would allow the town to recoup its investment this year.
Under a motion by Commissioner Sharon Conaway Parsons would also be responsible to constructing and maintaining a lift pump on his property to ensure the connection to the town’s sewer system would work.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.