In Stoneville, officials under a sewer hook-up moratorium for violating the town's waste-water discharge permit are rushing to purchase a package sewage treatment plant in an effort to avoid stiff state fines.
But just a few miles east, Eden officials expect to receive state permission today to continue violating that city's discharge permit while they make plans for a permanent sewage treatment plant expansion.The N.C. Environmental Management Commission is scheduled to decide today whether to approve an agreement, called a special order of consent or SOC, that would allow Eden to discharge more than 7 million gallons of sewage daily into the Dan River at the city's Mebane Bridge treatment plant - without having to pay penalties.
In return, Eden must begin expanding the plant before Dec. 15, and the expansion must be finished by July 1, 1992, said Jim Sheppard, spokesman for the state's Division of Environmental Management. The plant expansion is expected to increase the treatment capacity to at least 9 million gallons daily.
The differences in the state's treatment of the two municipalities may come down to two words: Please help.
``Stoneville was not making any efforts to correct their problem,' said Larry Coble, regional director for the Division of Environmental Management in Winston-Salem. ``Also they have not requested an SOC.'
Coble's division has cited both Eden and Stoneville for violating their discharge permits by dumping too much waste water during the past year.
Eden was cited five times in 1989 for discharging too much water from its treatment plants - 1.67 gallons too much at one point, according to one city official - and six times for allowing too many solids to escape the plant into the Dan River, Coble said.
Stoneville had exceeded its 150,000 gallon-per-day permit by an average of 26,000 per day between December 1988 and October 1989. State officials recently placed a moratorium on sewage hookups and ordered the town to expand its treatment plant.
``If a town or facility - private or public - has a plan or funding to develop something, usually we'll enter into an SOC with them,' Coble said. ``But if there doesn't seem to be a solution on the horizon, we don't have any recourse.'
Some Stoneville Town Board members, most of whom took office in December, say the moratorium was a surprise. Past board members in September had approved a resolution to apply for money to expand the plant and were considering joining utilities with the towns of Mayodan and Madison.
Board member David Stewart said he didn't think the state's treatment of Stoneville and Eden has been equitable. But he acknowledged that board members had not requested an agreement with the state to allow them time to plan an expansion.