Kinnakeet Shores wastewater system under emergency operator

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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The Kinnakeet Shores Wastewater Treatment System has been assigned to Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina for emergency operation.

On July 22, 2022, the North Carolina Utilities Commission declared a real emergency exists at the Kinnakeet Shores Wastewater Treatment Plant.

At a hearing on the same day, the commission received expert testimony from the public staff and from Patricia Weston, president of Greater Kinnakeet Shores Home Owners Inc.

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Charles Junis, director of the Water, Sewer and Telephone Division appeared on behalf of the public staff.

Junis painted a bleak picture of the Kinnakeet Shores Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which was described as in very poor condition and in need of significant repair. Junis visited the plant on July 19, 2022, the Tuesday before the Friday hearing.

As summarized in the commission’s order, Junis testified that “the most crucial parts of the WWTP are not functioning at all or are not functioning properly, that many system components are being used improperly to store sludge, that the latest repair to the system failed within three days of installation of a replacement part, and that the system is releasing untreated wastewater directly into a storage/infiltration pond which is very likely impacting a nearby recreational pond.”

Junis also testified that the dilapidated condition of the WWTP posed a danger to operators and inspectors.

Junis also accompanied representatives of the Division of Water Resources of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. That agency has determined that the system is non-compliant with applicable permits. In December, 2021, the agency established a moratorium on any new accounts. The division also filed a complaint and motion for injunctive relief in Dare County Superior Court. The complaint, according to the order, says the action alleges chronic neglect and mismanagement.

On July 22, the commission charged the public staff to see if Carolina Water Service was willing to serve as emergency operator of the system. The answer was yes.

On the same day, Ray E. Hollowell, the sole officer of Outer Banks/Kinnakeet Associates, sent a letter to the Utilities Commission. In that letter, he said he would withdraw his offer to sell the system to Currituck Water and Sewer and he agreed to sell to Carolina Water.

On July 25, he rescinded that offer. It is unknown at this time if this situation has been resolved.

On Aug. 3, the North Carolina Utilities Commission formally appointed Carolina Water Services, Inc. of North Carolina emergency operator of the Kinnakeet Shores Wastewater Treatment System.

The commission had to repeat its order for Kinnakeet Associates to send the customer list to Carolina Water. A letter approved by the Utilities Commission is to be sent to all Kinnakeet Shores customers.

The commission also approved a monthly flat rate for homes three bedrooms or less of $85.12. The new rate is the “standard flat rate for all wastewater customers” of Carolina Water, reports the media release.

Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina, estimates that the system will require $1 million to repair.

“CWSNC is honored to help and proud of its record with similar situations. We are already part of the coastal community through our operations in several locations throughout the Outer Banks, including Monteray Shores and the Village of Nags Head,” commented Don Denton, president of Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina, in a media release.

Denton remarked that “customers in Kinnakeet will benefit from access to our 24/7 Customer Experience team, our My Utility Connect online billing and communications application, and our extensive operations expertise.”

Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina, a Corix Group of Companies subsidiary, provides water and wastewater service to over 45,000 residential customers across the state of North Carolina, from Murphy to the Outer Banks.