The Greenline Regional Sewer Interconnect - A Project to effectively treat Wastewater in Lake Lure

The Town will proceed with a multi-million dollar project tying into Spindale's Wastewater Sewer System

Loans, Grants and Increased Sewer Rates to Offset Costs

The New Sewer Rates are as Follows:

April 2016 - There are some important changes taking place that will impact the cost of providing sewer utilities and the rates that customers will be charged for service.  

For some time now, the Town Council, its consulting engineers and the Utility Advisory Board have wrestled with the many complex and expensive issues surrounding our aging and increasingly ineffective wastewater treatment plant.

During recent Town Council meetings, they have weighed all of the various options against an ever-tightening list of requirements from the State of North Carolina for the safe treatment of wastewater.  The issues are complex and extend back over two decades.

Throughout that time, the Town has struggled to operate its wastewater treatment plant in a way that meets environmental regulations and that is also cost effective given our small customer base. While the plant is currently operating in a safe and responsible manner, it faces mounting challenges and continues to be in technical violation of its discharge permit into the Broad River. As such, the State of North Carolina is awaiting action by the Town toward a long-term solution.   

Working with the engineers and with other towns in Rutherford County, several options were explored, which have come down to two main approaches:

  • Make dramatic and very expensive upgrades to our existing treatment plant (which is near the end of its operational life), or
  • Eliminate it completely and build a pipeline to Spindale’s larger, more modern facility, (a project that is referred to as The Greenline Regional Sewer Interconnect).


Either way, we’re looking at a project cost of over $12 million. To put that into perspective, that’s $12,000 for every household in Lake Lure and Chimney Rock that is served by the sewer system.

Among the two approaches, the Town Council and the Utility Advisory Board are in agreement that eliminating our treatment plant and building the Greenline is the best approach.  The days of having every small community operating its own sewer plant is inefficient, ineffective and outdated.    

We cannot avoid a $12 million sewer project and we’re obviously not going to collect $12,000 from each customer.  We will make every effort to obtain federal or state grants to offset some project costs, but we can’t count on these.  Thus, our strategy is to utilize long-term loans to fund the investment in this infrastructure.

Over time, and with growth in our area, we’ll be able to pay off these loans.   There are some government assistance programs available to us that will provide attractive low or zero-interest terms.  If we can qualify for them, we can avoid adding another $2 million or more in financing costs to the project.

To qualify, however, the Town must demonstrate that it is responsibly setting rates to actually cover costs of operating the plant and that the rates have reached a level of hardship for citizens - measured as a percentage of the median household income. 

This is a rough measure of the community’s ability to pay their sewer bills.  Compared to other towns, Lake Lure has a high household income, so the new rates reflect the minimum sewer rate that will qualify the Town for the loans.  

These new rates are necessary to both offset the cost of the Greenline project and to meet the State’s eligibility requirements for low or zero interest loans.

The new sewer rates are as follows: 

 

We certainly recognize the hardship that this may create for our customers.  However, we have exhausted our alternatives and can no longer delay the recognition that providing effective sewer treatment will cost much more than we’ve been collecting. 

Should you be interested in learning more, the consulting engineers we’ve worked with have created a presentation that goes into greater detail.  It’s available for review at the left of this page.

We also have a list of FAQS that provides some additional information as well.