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Charlotte doesn’t plan to reintroduce biosolid expansion

A battle between residents along the Rowan-Cabarrus border and Charlotte’s utility department may be nearing its end.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, recently renamed Charlotte Water, is in the midst of a public hearing period on a renewal of its biosolid application program. Its pending application only applies to land already included in Charlotte’s program. Previously, the agency sought to expand its land application program into Cabarrus, Rowan and Iredell counties. The expansion was dropped after the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources cited a farmer included in the expansion for several environmental violations.

Now, Charlotte officials say the city has no plans to reintroduce the expansion at any point in the future.

“We withdrew the modification application, not the permit, because of several reasons,” said Charlotte Water spokeswoman Jennifer Frost. “In part, it was because of the (environmental violations) and the need for more time to evaluate parcel criteria, but also because Charlotte Water has adequate acreage now for the program. The acreage in the modification application would have served as reserve to the fields we already have in the program.”

Charlotte’s current biosolid application program doesn’t include any land in Rowan. Salisbury-Rowan Utilities does spread biosolids — processed waste water — on the fields of some Rowan farmers.

As a part of the public hearing process, Charlotte will have a public meeting March 24 at Mount Pleasant High School in Cabarrus County. The entire public hearing process continues until March 30, according to DENR Hydrogeologist David Goodrich. Other public comments could be mailed to the Division of Water Resources at 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh N.C. 27699-1617, Goodrich said.

If Charlotte decided to reintroduce an application for expanded land after its existing permit is renewed, Goodrich said the city would have to begin the process “at the beginning again.”

The permit renewal that’s currently pending would be for five years.

The renewal may mark the end of a lengthy battle that heated up late last year. Concerned Rowan and Cabarrus residents held multiple public meetings, including one attended by officials from Charlotte Water.

In January, local farmer Phil Cline, who had land included in the proposed expansion, was cited by multiple departments of DENR for operating a non-permitted dump site. A majority of the material on the site was emission control dust from nearby Carolina Stalite. The dust was described as a lime equivalent. Lime is used by farmers to balance the pH levels of soil.

Weeks after the violations were issued, Charlotte rescinded its request to expand its biosolid application program.

Now, a bill is pending in the N.C. House of Representatives that aims to give local government entities more control over biosolid application programs. The bill was crafted by Rep. Larry Pittman, R-82. Other sponsors on the bill include Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, and Rep. Michael Speciale, R-3.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

 

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