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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
CMUD Newsroom MOVED

The CMUD Newsroom moved to this location: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Utilities/NewsandUpdates/Pages/home.aspx


 

Friday, November 2, 2012
Local Firms Recognized For Environmental Stewardship

Huntersville - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department honored 27 local companies this week for environmental excellence in protecting our community's water quality.

The award winners are among more than 60 industrial companies in Mecklenburg County that discharge high-strength wastewater into the city's wastewater system. The discharge permits and pretreatment processes are monitored by CMUD to ensure that wastewater is treated properly and returned to the environment safely.

Environmental Excellence Award winners have complied with pollution discharge requirements and have exhibited a proactive and innovative approach to protecting water quality. The honorees were recognized during a luncheon Tuesday at the Lee Dukes Water Treatment Plant in Huntersville.

Platinum Award
Trane, Charlotte * Mecklenburg County 521 Foxhole Landfill

Gold Award American Circuits, Inc.* Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Company * CPI Corporation * Duff Norton Company Mallard Creek Polymers Incorporated * Masonry Reinforcing Corporation of America * The Charlotte Observer

Silver Award
Allied Metal Finishing, Inc. * Arjobex America * Aplix, Inc. * Cargill, Inc.* Carrier Corporation * Charlotte Plating, Inc. * Chematron Inc. * Frito Lay, Incorporated * Huntsman International, LLC * IGM Resins Charlotte, Inc. Jacobsen, A Textron Company * Lifetouch Inc. (Photo Division) Norfolk Southern Railway - M.W. Roadway Shop * Pan-Glo, Charlotte * Stork Prints America, Incorporated * The Dow Chemical Company * Unifirst Corporation * Water Systems

Water Conservation
UniFirst Corporation

Pollution Prevention
Cargill, Inc.


 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
28 Billion Gallons Recycled Last Year
CMUD Protects Environment through Safe, Effective Wastewater Treatment

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department successfully collected and treated more than 28 billion gallons of the community's wastewater during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012. There were 281 sewer spills in our community, a decrease of 54 spills compared to the year before. In fact, the number of spills per 100 miles of pipe continued to decline from 10.9 in 2007 to 6.7 spills in fiscal year 2012.

Wastewater overflows are still a community challenge. "More than half our overflows can be prevented at the kitchen sink," said spokesperson Cam Coley. "Customers can help protect the environment - and their plumbing - by pouring fats, oils, and grease in a disposable jar and pitching it into the trash, instead of down the drain."

In the September water bill, customers will receive a summary of the annual wastewater report. The reports will also be posted on www.cmutilities.com under "Education."


 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
CMUD Operations Information

Citizens and visitors alike will notice no change to the continuous delivery of essential drinking water and wastewater services during this week's Democratic National Convention.

Stay tuned to this site for any new water-sewer service information or details about activities ocurring outside the Extraordinary Event Zone.

Any developing CMUD service or operational information or activity inside the Extraordinary Event Zone will be posted at dncinfo.charlottenc.gov


 

Thursday, June 21, 2012
Water Main break causes outage in Birkdale Commons in Huntersville

A water main break at the intersection of Townley Road and Birkdale Commons Parkway has cut water service to Birkdale Commons this afternoon. Crews are onsite working to make repairs. Repairs are expected to be completed and water service restored by midnight tonight. At this time the cause of the break is not known.

Updates will be posted here as they become available.


 

Saturday, June 16, 2012
Birkdale Village Water Main Break - 11:30 Update

UPDATE: The emergency main repair was completed around 11:15 and water service is in the process of being restored at this time. All customers should have full service by early afternoon at the latest.

ORIGINAL

An 8 inch water main break at the 16600 block of Northcross Drive in Charlotte near the town limits of Huntersville has cut water service to the Birkdale Village area. At this time, the cause of the break is unknown, but repairs to the 8 inch main require shutting off other water lines in the immediate vicinity and have disrupted service to a number or retail and dining establishments in the area.

Crews have been working since midnight to make repairs and hope to have the work completed by mid-afternoon.


 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Residents urged to steer clear of pond at Park Road Park

Charlotte-Mecklenburg officials are asking the public to be cautious near the Park Road Park pond due to possible contamination. A sewage spill entered a tributary that flows into the pond. Although the sewage pipe near 5624 Glenkirk Road has been fixed, approximately 2,000 gallons of untreated sewage may have gone into the Park Road Park pond.

Residents are urged to keep children and pets out of the Park Road Park pond until further notice. Fishing in the pond during this time is also discouraged. Signs have been posted in Park Road Park to alert residents of the situation.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services is testing the water quality in the pond to determine the sewage spill's impact. "Preliminary results show that oxygen levels in the pond water are below normal," said John McCulloch of Storm Water Services Water Quality program. An aerator is now being used to increase oxygen levels in the pond. McCulloch noted that lab results on bacteria levels should be available tomorrow.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department responded on Monday to a report of a wastewater overflow in a residential area near Park Road Park. A blockage of kitchen grease caused the spill. Untreated sewage entered a small creek that flows into the park. Utility crews took immediate steps to pump affected creek water into a manhole for treatment, then clean the area.

The response is being coordinated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.


 

Monday, February 6, 2012
McDowell Street Main Break

CMUD crews have repaired an eight inch water main break that left the Mecklenburg County Courthouse and Crown Plaza Hotel without water for most of the morning.

Water service has been restored to impacted customers, but the outbound lane of McDowell Street by the courthouse will remained closed well into the evening.

Updates will follow as necessary.


 

Friday, January 13, 2012
American Water Resources Letter

American Water Resources (AWR) is among several national vendors that that sell private plumbing warranties. They recently mailed a letter to residents in Mecklenburg County soliciting their services. This warranty program is NOT endorsed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD), and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the City of Charlotte. It is entirely the customer's choice whether to participate in this private plumbing warranty service.

CMUD has been investigating whether to pursue a potential partnership with a selected third-party vendor to offer optional private water and sewer line warranties for residential customers. Repairs to private plumbing lines can be costly and are the responsibility of the customer. Similar services are already available from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas for gas and power lines, and other cities partner with various third-party firms to provide warranty coverage to customers on an optional basis for outdoor water and sewer service lines.

CMUD solicited and received company proposals over the summer of 2011 and made a presentation to City Council at the dinner meeting on 10/10/11 describing the program concepts and the benefits it could offer customers as well as the City. AWR is one of the three firms presented to City Council as a finalist, along with HomeServe USA and Utility Service Partners, Inc. Based on feedback from Charlotte City Council in October, CMUD continues evaluating the proposals, will determine a recommended course of future action and return to City Council at a later date.

For more information on how to protect plumbing, click on Customer Care button at top of this page.


 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
City Council approves contract to upgrade Irwin Creek wastewater treatment plant

CHARLOTTE - Charlotte City Council approved a contract with Crowder Construction at its meeting on Monday, December 12, to begin upgrades to the Irwin Creek wastewater treatment plant.

The $20.8 million project involves rebuilding a significant portion of the structures and equipment on the site. A second phase of improvements to this plant is scheduled to follow this work in about 18 months. The project is financed with revenue bonds which are repaid with wastewater customer fees. CMUD is not funded by property taxes.

"While we have expanded the plant many times since it was constructed in the 1920s, much of the equipment and structures are decades old and in need of rehabilitation to ensure that the plant can safely treat wastewater," said Barry Gullet, director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department. "As a utility, we are moving from growth mode to maintenance mode and this project is very much a part of that shift in our focus."

Identified as a need in the 2007 wastewater master plan, this project includes rehabilitation of wastewater pumps, new structures to measure and control wastewater flow through the various treatment processes, new generators to keep the plant going during power outages, upgrades to equipment used to treat wastewater to assure water quality standards can be reliably achieved, and upgrades to improve the efficiency and reliability of the electrical system within the plant.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents have a big investment in the water and sewer system. Projects like this one are necessary to protect that investment and to maintain the integrity of the system," said Gullet. "We finance the cost of large projects like this one and more than sixty cents of every ratepayer dollar goes towards paying that debt. If we neglect maintenance and upgrades now, the plant, and eventually water quality, will continue to deteriorate and will cost more to replace in the future."

The Irwin Creek Wastewater Plant treats about 10 million gallons per day of wastewater that is produced by people who live or work in its service area which includes much of uptown and west Charlotte. It is one of five wastewater plants operated by CMUD which in total treat more than 80 million gallons of wastewater each day.

Council also approved a contract for $2.7 million with an engineering company, Hazen and Sawyer, to provide project management and administration services. This includes observation of construction, facility startup services and operator training.


 

Monday, November 28, 2011
City Council to consider water meter electronic transmitter replacement contract

CHARLOTTE - Charlotte City Council will consider a contract at its meeting on Monday, November 28, to replace approximately 68,000 water meter electronic transmitters at the manufacturer's expense. Customers that have a transmitter that will be replaced will get a letter in the mail with more details.

As a part of the 40-point customer service improvement plan, CMUD implemented new quality assurance process changes that led the utility to discover the potential for a certain model of electronic meter transmitters to fail in the field. The transmitters convert water usage information measured by the meter and register into electronic data and send it via a radio signal to the meter reading trucks.

The potential malfunctions are related to a particular batch of electronic components used by the manufacturer during a certain time period. CMUD is able to identify the locations where this equipment is installed through the serial numbers of the equipment.

When the transmitters do malfunction, they transmit the water usage information from the meter as either too low or too high. The change out will start December 1 and run through April.

During the change out procedure, steps will be taken to confirm that the water usage sent by the transmitter to the billing system matches what is on the mechanical register at the meter. Any discrepancy in the customer's favor will result in a billing adjustment.


 

Monday, November 21, 2011
Protect the Enviroment this Holiday Season

Fats, oils, grease, dairy products and other foods clog your plumbing and lead to expensive repairs when poured down kitchen sinks. Clogs can also happen when dishes aren't properly cleaned before putting them in the dishwasher.

CMUD is asking customers to take special care this holiday season when cooking to properly dispose of waste.

When grease goes down the drain, your pipes and the pipes on the street become blocked as the grease hardens and makes it impossible for untreated sewage to flow to treatment plants. Eventually this raw sewage with nowhere else to go overflows from manholes and ends up in our streams and creeks.

Kitchen grease isn't the only household item to block sewer lines. Baby wipes, paper towels, mail and medication are also items that should never go down drains. For more information, visit the grease section of our website.



Grease Disposal Tips
* Mix liquid oils / fats with an absorbent material, such as cat litter or coffee grounds, and place in a lidded container and dispose of in a trash can
* You can also recycle cooking oils and grease at the Mecklenburg County Recycling Centers.
* For more information about sewage overflows and how to prevent them, dial 311 or 704-336-7600.
* Report improper grease disposal or grease related concerns



Call 311 if You Notice:
* sewer odors in a creek
* discolored creek water
* overflowing manholes
* dead fish or aquatic life


 

Thursday, October 6, 2011
Local Firms Recognized For Environmental Stewardship

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department honored 37 local companies this week for environmental excellence in protecting our community's water quality.

The award winners are among more than 60 permitted industrial users that discharge high-strength wastewater into the citys wastewater system. Their discharge permits and pretreatment processes are monitored by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities System Protection section, whose mission is to protect the flow of wastewater into local treatment plants. This ensures proper treatment so that water can be safely returned to the environment.

Environmental Excellence Award winners have complied with their pollution discharge requirements, have cooperated fully with Utilities, and have exhibited a proactive and innovative approach to protecting water quality. The honorees were recognized during a luncheon Thursday at the Lee Dukes Water Treatment Plant in Huntersville.

Platinum Award
Trane, Charlotte

Crown Award
Cargill, Inc.

Gold Award
American Circuits, Inc. * Arjobex American * Carrier Corporation * Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Chematron Inc. * CPI Corp. * Dow Chemical Company * Duff Norton Company Environmental Pumping and Drain Line Solutions * IGM Resins Masonry Reinforcing Corporation of America * Mecklenburg County 521 Foxhole Landfill Norfolk Southern Railway - M.W. Roadway Shop * Optical Experts Manufacturing Jacobsen, A Textron Company

Silver Award
Allied Metal Finishing * Aplix, Inc. * Cargill * Charlotte Plating *Chesapeake Treatment Company Cintas Corporation *Emerald Carolina Chemical * Frito Lay, Incorporated *HazMat Transportation Herff Jones Inc. (Photo Division) *Independent Beverage Corporation *Mallard Creek Polymers The Charlotte Observer * Pan-Glo Charlotte * Pelton & Crane *Pneumafil Corporation Siemens Energy, Inc. * Snyders-Lance Inc. * Unifirst Corporation *Water Systems * Wallace Farm, Inc.


 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Bank erosion leads to broken pipe, sewer spill & fish kill along Briar Creek

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) crews responded to a broken sewer line and wastewater overflow Sunday evening near 540 Bramlet Drive. The spill has resulted in a fish kill discovered late yesterday, further down the creek.

Recent flooding eroded the creek bank, causing the 21-inch wastewater pipe to break. An estimated 183,500 gallons of wastewater reached Edwards Branch, which feeds into Briar Creek. Crews responded to the spill site within 30 minutes Sunday, reported it to regulators and immediately set up an operation to divert wastewater flow around the broken pipe area using a temporary hose. "Crews will pump around the repair site for the next 10 days, until we finish replacing 50 feet of large sewer pipe and restore 200 feet of creek bank," said CMUD spokesperson Cam Coley.

The dead fish were found yesterday afternoon along Briar Creek near Park Road. Cleanup and public notification continues today, including email contact with neighborhood residents, schools and businesses along the Briar Creek corridor between Selwyn Road and the Huntingtowne Farms neighborhood. As a precaution, citizens are encouraged to avoid direct contact with Briar Creek for the next 72-hours, and to also keep their pets out of the creek. Mecklenburg County Water Quality officials will continue monitoring the stream on a daily basis until water quality conditions return to normal.


 

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Group announces Stage 1 Drought

The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group (CW-DMAG) announced on Thursday that recent dry weather has moved the Catawba-Wateree Basin back into Stage 1 drought of the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP).

Stage 1 is the second of five drought stages outlined in the LIP and recommends voluntary water conservation by all water users. CMUD has seen lower water use this summer than previous years by customers, indicating that conservation is becoming more ingrained within the community.

Lake storage has declined slowly through the summer due to the seasonal increase in lake surface evaporation, declining groundwater levels and below-average rainfall. Stream flows in the basin and the U.S. Drought Monitor for the southeast region have also deteriorated steadily, and recent rains from Tropical Storm Lee didn't improve the drought indicators.

Long range forecasts are mixed, but generally call for conditions that are drier than normal. If more consistent and significant rainfall doesn't occur through the rest of September, CW-DMAG may move the basin into Stage 2 drought status in early October. Stage 2 requires water customers to reduce outdoor water usage to two days per week.

The LIP is the regional drought management plan that major water users in the Catawba-Wateree Basin use to share responsibility and set priorities to conserve the limited water supply during periods of low inflow. CW-DMAG members receive regular updates and meet at least monthly on conditions in the Basin.

To learn more about the Catawba-Wateree Basin, local restrictions, and water saving tips, go to www.saveyourwater.org , a website provided by the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group. For more information about the CW-DMAG and the LIP, visit www.duke-energy.com/lakes/cwdmag.asp


 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
27 Billion Gallons Recycled Last Year
Utilities Protects Environment through Safe, Effective Wastewater Treatment

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities successfully collected and treated more than 27 billion gallons of the community's wastewater during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011. Plants earned performance awards while pipe crews maintained and improved the infrastructure and responded to 14 fewer wastewater overflows.

Wastewater overflows are still a community challenge. "More than half our overflows can be prevented at the kitchen sink," said Utilities spokesman Cam Coley. "Customers can help protect the environment -and their plumbing - by pouring fats, oils, and grease in a disposable jar and pitching it into the trash, instead of down the drain."

In the September water bill, customers will receive a summary of the annual wastewater report. The reports will also be posted on www.cmutilities.com under "Education."


 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Launches Smart Irrigation Incentive Program

CHARLOTTE - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has launched a new program designed to encourage residential customers to install and use smart irrigation controllers.

Smart controllers use weather satellite data in combination with plant and site conditions to alter the amount of water used for irrigation based on site specific conditions. Case studies involving this equipment have shown reductions in water use of 20 to 40 percent.

"Smart controllers differ from traditional controllers because they automatically shut off when it is raining, apply water based on weather conditions and do not require seasonal adjustments," said Maeneen Klein, performance manager, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities. "These controllers are 'smart' because they take the guess work out of when to water - the plant material and weather conditions dictate the watering needs and adjust the watering cycle accordingly."

Customers who install a separate irrigation meter, backflow device and smart controller will have all irrigation usage charged at the tier 3 rate beginning July 1, 2012. Currently, those with irrigation meters are charged at tier 3 and tier 4.

To help off-set the costs of installing a separate irrigation meter, CMUD is waiving the $433 capacity fee for the installation of a single service residential irrigation meter. Additionally, payment of the connection fee for single service or a dedicated service line can now be spread over a 12-month period.

These new incentives were approved during the rate structure changes by City Council in February 2011. The incentives officially went into effect on July 1. The incentive program is a continuation of CMUD's WaterSmart program, which has helped reduce average household consumption significantly over the last decade.

Currently there are approximately 7,000 irrigation meters in CMUD's system. That number is expected to rise as state law now requires all new in-ground irrigation systems on land platted after July 1, 2009, and connected to public water systems to have a separate irrigation meter.

Those interested in learning more about the incentives are encouraged to call CharMeck 311 or click here.


 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Treated Wastewater Used for Irrigation Spills into Stoney Creek

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities responded to a broken reclaimed water pipe near on Monday, August 15. Reclaimed water is treated wastewater that is used for irrigation instead of using drinking water. Utilities provides reclaimed water to The Traditions Golf course and Mallard Creek Park.

The pipe was damaged by a contractor in the area. An estimated 121,125 gallons reached Stoney Creek. Repair crews got to the spill within 30 minutes and took appropriate cleanup / repair action. Water quality tests were taken upstream and downstream of the spill. No dead fish were found associated with this overflow.

Utilities crews maintain 4,047 miles of wastewater pipe. Sewer charges from monthly water bills fund preventative maintenance, emergency response, and the safe daily delivery of an average of 83 million gallons of wastewater to five treatment plants, where wastewater is treated to high water quality standards and released back into our waterways. We need your help to control the cost of providing service protecting public health and the environment -- by reporting any sewer problems to 311 at any time.


 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities refinances debt, saving public money

CHARLOTTE - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has refinanced $114 million in revenue bond debt that will generate $18 million in present value savings.

According to Charlotte Chief Financial Officer Greg Gaskins, the refinancing will reduce the interest cost on the bonds outstanding by 16.4%, impacting potential rate adjustments this year and in the future.

"The $18 million savings will be realized over the life of the bonds with $3 million in savings in both FY2012 and FY2013. The remaining savings are spread evenly over the years that follow until all the bonds are repaid in FY2025," he said. "This helps the utility keep cost down as CMUD transitions from a time of high growth to lower growth and continues to maintain quality service."

The AAA rated bonds were underwritten by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Securities, with the sale officially closing on August 3.

CMUD serves an estimated population of 788,190, has a water treatment capacity of 242 million gallons per day and a wastewater treatment capacity of 123 million gallons per day. With more than 8,000 miles of water and sewer pipes, the utility serves the City of Charlotte as well as the towns of Cornelius, Huntersville, Davidson, Mint Hill, Matthews and Pineville.

For more information on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, visit www.cmutilites.com.


 

Monday, August 1, 2011
McAlpine Creek Greenway and Park - Sewer Project and Restoration

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities (Utilities) is installing a large wastewater pipe under the McAlpine Creek Greenway and Park during 2013 or later. Sections of both the greenway and park will be closed around the construction area.

During a February 2011 public meeting, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department discussed the restoration options for the McAlpine Park, including trails beside the creek. Utilities will restore park and greenway to original elevation and rebuild disturbed trails along an alignment determined by Park and Recreation within the construction right of way.

The existing trails are loose gravel which flow into the creek during heavy rains. Reapplying gravel costs the county over $50,000 a year. Tons of gravel washed into the creek causes environmental damage, negatively affecting the creek and aquatic life. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department is planning to install asphalt over the crushed stone base to minimize maintenance costs and negative impacts on the creek. Park and Recreation planning staff met with a focus group of runners and coaches on July 21, 2011 about the potential for creating new natural surface trails to supplement the greenway. Operation of the existing 5K will be maintained with minor revisions. Approximately 2 miles of new natural surface trails are being planned and may be available before the start of sewer construction. The general feeling was that the resulting combination of trail facilities being planned would be better and offer more options than the current facilities.

Park and Recreation was asked to consider soft-rubber options for the greenway trail, but the high cost, on-going maintenance issues and the need to eliminate bicycle traffic on these surfaces makes them inappropriate for a greenway trail.

Utilities and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department will work to minimize construction impacts and maintain access to the 5K running trails in the McAlpine Park trails during August 1st through December 15th to accommodate running events. The construction area will be fenced for safety.

To learn more about the sewer project.


 

Thursday, June 9, 2011
Repair Work Continues on Runnymede and Woodlawn

Engineers from NCDOT and Charlotte- Mecklenburg Utilities met on site today discuss construction plans and a potential timeline for making the repairs to the water line and Runnymede Lane, which were damaged after a water line broke earlier this week.

In addition to the water line, road, sidewalk and street trees, other infrastructure impacted includes underground fiber optic lines and stormwater lines.

At this time plans are being refined, with the selection for contractors slated for the end of the week. Work to make repairs to the road and water line should begin by early next week.

Utilities will release additional information on traffic impacts once those plans are finalized.

While one lane of Runnymede remains open in both directions, motorists are still encouraged to find an alternate route.

One lane also remains closed between Park and Selwyn on Woodlawn as crews work to make repairs on the water line break near Woodlawn and Montford Avenue.


 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Utilities Crews Making Repairs on Runnymede Lane and Woodlawn Road

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities crews are working to make repairs to a 24- inch water line on Runnymede Lane near the intersection of Michael Baker Drive and on Woodlawn near the intersection of Montford Avenue.

Water service for residents and businesses has not been impacted.

On Runnymede, a 24-inch water line broke causing damage to the roadway and sidewalk. Traffic has been diverted to one lane in either direction near the intersection of Selwyn Avenue and continuing to Barclay Downs Road near the campus of Myers Park High School. At a minimum, traffic will be impacted for the next several days as crews work to make repairs.

Utilities is working closely with its partners at NCDOT to determine the repairs needed to Runnymede as well as a timeframe for the repair. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, the Charlotte Fire Department and Medic are also assisting Utilities.

The second break has occurred on a water line along the sidewalk on Woodlawn near the intersection of Montford Avenue. Contractors are working to make repairs and have closed one east-bound lane.


 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities releases Water Quality Report

Beginning this week, the 2010 Water Quality Report will be delivered to all residents of Mecklenburg County as required by the EPA.

Once again, drinking water provided by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities meets and exceeds all state and federal standards. Utilities conducted more than 150,000 tests on drinking water in 2010 to ensure that the water we all drink is safe. These tests look for more than 150 substances, many of which occur naturally in the environment. Even the highest contaminant levels detected were well below federal limits.

"There is a direct link between our community's investment in both water infrastructure and well trained staff and the high quality of our water," said Barry Gullet, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Director. "We have been recognized for the superior operation of the water system and the quality of the drinking water produced on many occasions, and once again our annual water quality report reflects the high level of confidence customers should have in the tap water they drink."

The annual report compiled by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities is required by the U.S. EPA and outlines the results of the stringent testing done throughout the year. The report also includes the results of the Source Water Assessment Program conducted by the state of North Carolina, information on impurities that might be present in untreated water, and basic information about the water treatment process.

For more information about the report, click here or dial 311.


 

Friday, April 15, 2011
Health Officials, Utility Plan to Scale Back Fluoride Levels in Tap Water

Based on guidance from local, state and federal health officials, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities plans to reduce the amount of fluoride added in tap water.

Charlotte, NC - Based on guidance from local, state and federal health officials, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities plans to reduce the amount of fluoride added in tap water. The change will occur sometime over the next few weeks, continuing to safely reduce the incidence of dental cavities and promote dental health, while bringing local practices in line with a recent proposal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS proposal recommends community water systems adjust fluoride content to the lowest end of the current optimal range established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Along with HHS proposal in January to adjust maximum fluoride content to 0.7 milligrams per liter, the EPA initiated its own review of the maximum fluoride levels currently allowed in drinking water. At this time, water regulators with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) haven't formally changed rules related to tap water fluoridation, but the state agency recently authorized health and drinking water officials in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to decide together whether to lower local fluoride levels based on the DHHS proposal.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the maximum amount of fluoride added to tap water will be reduced from about 1 milligram per liter (equal to 1 part per million, or the equivalent of 1 penny in $10,000) to about 0.7 milligrams per liter.

"This subtle change will continue to promote dental health in a safe and cost-effective manner while aligning current fluoride levels with the recent federal proposal," explained Stephen Keener, M.D., Mecklenburg County medical director. "Local dental professionals and other public health partners are aware of this change and generally agree."

The public has more access to cavity prevention than it did when fluoridation started in Charlotte more than 70 years ago, Keener said, but tap water fluoridation still remains one of the safest and most cost-effective means of preventing tooth decay in children.

"This adjustment will reduce the chance of fluoride over-exposure, a relatively rare situation that results in a condition known as fluorosis or discolored teeth," Keener added. "This change is an excellent example of professionals and agencies working together to protect the health of our citizens and community in the most responsible, safe and efficient manner."

The fluoride reduction is expected to reduce annual utility operating costs by about $100,000. "Water customers won't taste anything different," said Barry Gullet, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities director. "Your water will continue to meet and exceed all established health and safety standards."

Citizens with questions about tap water fluoridation are encouraged to visit www.meckhealth.org, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Water Quality FAQ, or call 311.


 

Friday, April 8, 2011
Council to consider second meter pilot project

Charlotte City Council will consider an agreement related to the continued effort by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities to accelerate the upgrade of water meter transmitters at its meeting on Monday. The agreement would also launch a second pilot program to test next-generation meter transmitter technology.

Both parts of the proposed agreement with Badger Meter, Inc., are tied to ongoing customer service improvements at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities.

"This agreement would allow us to finalize the transition from 50W transmitters to the 60Ws that we started to accelerate with the contract that Council approved last month," said Barry Gullet, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Director. "The 60W performs better in the field because its stronger radio signal transmits data at a better rate than the 50W. Additionally, the pilot program is important because it provides a first step towards allowing our customers to have more frequent access to their water use data."

The pilot program would take place in the Peninsula neighborhood in Cornelius and in the Faires Farm neighborhood in Charlotte. Both neighborhoods were a part of the meter equipment audit completed last summer. Badger Meter recently developed a transmitter system compatible with existing equipment with new features that include the ability to internally store hourly water use data. The study would include up to 1,000 installed transmitters.

The two-year agreement is in two parts. The first part of the agreement is for the pilot study and is not to exceed $225,000.

The second part is for up to $6,200,000 for the accelerated replacement of 50W meter transmitters with 60,000 60W transmitters at a discount and the extension of a previous contract to continue to provide needed water meter equipment for standard, ongoing operation of the system. There is also a provision that would allow the Utility to upgrade the replacement 60W transmitters to 100W transmitters if the previously approved pilot study results showed that it was the best course of action.

Last month, City Council approved an agreement with Itron, Inc., to replace 60,000 50W transmitters with 60W transmitters as well as launch a pilot study of 100W transmitters.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities began installing automated meter reading (AMR) equipment in 2002. AMR uses traditional, mechanical water meters with attached electronic transmitters that capture the mechanical reading and transmit water usage data via radio signal to mobile collectors as they drive through neighborhoods.

To read more about the agreement approved last month, click here.


 

Friday, March 25, 2011
City Council to consider water meter project

Continuing its series of customer service improvements that included last year's water meter equipment audit, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities will ask City Council Monday to approve a pilot program in two neighborhoods to test-drive the latest, most sophisticated meter transmitter equipment available on the market.

The program would include the installation of the new 100W meter transmitters and registers in the River Run and Hidden Valley neighborhoods. The cost of the program is $234,470. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities began installing automated meter reading (AMR) equipment in 2002. AMR uses traditional, mechanical water meters with attached electronic transmitters that capture the mechanical reading and transmit water usage data via radio signal to mobile collectors as they drive through neighborhoods.

Currently, about half of residential water meters use a model 60W transmitter, and half use an older model called the 50W. Under the agreement, Itron, Inc., would accelerate the ongoing upgrade of 50W transmitters to 60W transmitters at no charge to the utility.

This agreement will replace about half of the remaining 50W transmitters. A second agreement will be forthcoming to replace the other half. Over the last decade transmitter technology has made significant advances, and the utility has worked continuously to keep the system up-to-date.

"During the last several years we've replaced 50Ws with 60Ws as needed. This agreement speeds things up," said Barry Gullet, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Director. "The meter audit confirmed our meter equipment functions properly. The audit also supported our vendor's findings that the 60W, with its stronger radio signal, transmits the data signal at a better rate than the 50W. So we've worked with Itron to accelerate the upgrade process while seizing the opportunity to test the 100Ws."

The testing of 100W meter transmitters in River Run and Hidden Valley marks a first step toward real-time, continuous meter reading. Because 100Ws capture and store water usage data at a more frequent interval, water customers could eventually have access to far more information about their water usage. River Run and Hidden Valley were chosen for the pilot because of their different water use patterns and because baseline data was established in both neighborhoods during last summer's meter equipment audit
"100Ws are newer and more expensive technology," Gullet said. "But they offer tremendous opportunities to improve the way we serve customers."


 

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Budget Update

The drinking water and wastewater system is community-owned and completely supported by ratepayers (not tax revenues). Modest rate increases typically occur every year to:

* Maintain existing water/sewer plants, pipes and other facilities to ensure continued delivery of high-quality water/sewer services

* Provide additional water and wastewater facilities and services to support community growth and economic opportunity; and

* Meet regulatory requirements to protect water quality.

Utilities invests more than $100 million annually to maintain and improve water services. Bonds (or loans) allow our community to borrow money and pay it back over decades, similar to a mortgage payment. Rate adjustments also help Utilities pay these 'mortgage payments' on completed projects that are serving the community. Paying for projects that are serving the community is more than half the annual budget for Utilities. Power, chemicals, personnel and some other equipment and charges make up the other part of the budget and most of those costs are fixed regardless of the amount of water used each year.

Click here to learn more.


 

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Water line repair at Park and Woodlawn intersection Friday 11:45 AM update

The water line repair is complete and all lanes of traffic have reopened as of 10:45 AM today.


 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Upcoming Presentations to Charlotte City Council about Rates

Click here to learn about upcoming meetings to discuss alternatives to existing water and sewer rates.


 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Water Line Repairs Taking Longer With Fewer Crews

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities is working hard to try to keep up with water leak repairs, but the wait times can be lengthy. There is a backlog of over 500 repairs that need to be fixed.

Two factors are exacerbating the backlog. First, cold weather always increases the number of breaks and this winter has been very cold. Second, budget limitations over the last several years have forced significant staff reductions. Utilities' workforce is reduced from 31 repair crews to 13 crews due to more than two years of hiring freezes and the employee attrition that has taken place during that time. Utilities recently hired private contractors to assist in bringing down the backlog of repairs.

There are over 4,000 miles of water mains in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg system.

Repairs that are causing property damage, water outages, or traffic problems are repaired first. Smaller leaks may take more than 12 weeks to be repaired.

You Can Help
If you see or suspect a water leak or sewer spill, please call 311 or 704-336-7600.

Utilities will dispatch a service technician to evaluate the problem as soon as possible. If a leak exists on a public water pipe, then a work order will be created and a crew dispatched as soon as possible.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.


 

Friday, January 21, 2011
Biosolids Queen Retires Her Crown
45 Years of Service, Second Longest in City History

Every time you flush, your waste is treated at one of five wastewater treatment plants. And for more than 20 years, The Biosolids Queen, Trille Mendenhall has helped safely recycle part of the community's waste into a beneficial fertilizer for farmers. On January 31, The Queen is retiring after serving the public for more than 45 years.

"Trille is second longest serving employee in City history," says Director Barry Gullet. "She is a people person. There hasn't been anyone she's met that she hasn' known within 30 seconds."

On Monday, January 24 at the City Council meeting, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Charlotte City Council will recognize Trille as the longest active city employee.

Trille is known for her positive attitude no matter the challenge. After being diagnosed with chronic leukemia, Trille assisted other patients overcome their initial shock and fear of the disease so they can lead happy, productive lives. She also worked through 10 years of night school to earn a business degree from UNC-Charlotte.

Major Recognitions
* Successfully developed a recycling program to convert residuals from wastewater and water treatment plants into fertilizer instead of landfill. Managed program from 1987 to 2011.
* Managed the Mandatory Water Conservation Program during a drought in the mid-1980s.
* Part of the team that installed 54-inch water pipe under Providence Road in 1986-1987.

Her Top Awards
* EPA Awards for Biosolids  1992 (Regional and National) and 1994 (Regional).
* Utilities Directors Award and City Employee of the Year Award in 1999.
* Earth Coalition Environmental Hero Award in 1992.


 

Friday, January 21, 2011
McAlpine Creek Relief Sewer Public Meeting Rescheduled for Monday, February 7

The public meeting scheduled for Monday, January 10 was rescheduled to Monday, February 7.

The community meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. at the Fletcher School (8500 Sardis Road). This meeting will discuss the third phase of McAlpine Creek Relief Sewer Project and temporary closure of greenway during construction.

Click here to learn more.


 

Thursday, January 13, 2011
BBRRRR! Bundle up - and protect your water pipes from extreme cold

Utilities encourages customers to protect their plumbing. Taking steps now can prevent burst water pipes and costly repairs.

* Locate your master water shut-off valve now in case you experience a burst pipe later and need to cut off your water in a hurry.

* Make sure your meter box lid is properly in place to keep cold air from freezing water inside the meter. If your meter cover is broken or missing, contact Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities by dialing 311.

* Insulate pipes in unheated parts of your home and save on energy costs by insulating your water heater. Insulation materials are available at local hardware stores.

* Sealing any openings and air leaks in crawl space or basement. Use cardboard, plastic or newspaper to seal air vents if necessary.

* Open doors on cabinets below sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate around plumbing at night.

* Disconnect garden hoses from outdoor spigots.

* Unplug automatic lawn sprinkler systems. Irrigation line breaks and sprinklers spraying onto sidewalks and roadways will quickly lead to serious public safety hazards and expensive repairs. If you must irrigate your lawn this time of year, do so during daylight hours when temperatures are well above freezing.

Protect Your Irrigation System from Old Man Winter

If you have an irrigation system, you also have a backflow prevention device. Now is the time to protect both from cold weather damage that can cause system leaks and high water bills.

Codes require certain types of commercial and residential water customers - those with irrigation systems, for example - to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies at their connection. Last winter, quite a few backflow assemblies froze and burst due to inadequate freeze protection.


 

Monday, January 10, 2011
Inclement Weather Update

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities is not experiencing significant impacts at this time affecting the essential delivery of drinking water or the collection / treatment of wastewater. Utilities maintains inclement weather plans and has made operational adjustments accordingly considering the hazardous travel and reduced visibility in the field. Everyone is focused on working safe and continuing service delivery.

* Standby/backup equipment (i.e. generators) is available.
* We have fewer crews on the street, working emergencies only. Of course they are traveling carefully to fix as many leaks as they can given the added freeze hazard created by leaks and reduced visibility.
* Drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are adequately staffed and operating normally, although some of our process monitoring / sampling may be delayed due to access / safety issues.


 

Thursday, January 6, 2011
Recent State Advisory on Consuming Fish from Mountain Island Lake

North Carolina Division of Public Health announced a new advisory about eating certain fish in Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie.

* Fish consumption advisories are based on monitoring of aquatic life.

* Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities tests for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) beyond what is required.

* Utilities has never found detectable levels of PCBs in untreated lake water or in drinking water.

* PCB levels detected as part of the state's fish consumption advisory do not indicate any drinking water safety issue and should not be a cause for public concern in that regard.

Click here to visit North Carolina Division of Public Health website.


 

Monday, December 6, 2010
Utilities Customer Service Update

A City Manager-sponsored evaluation of Utilities Customer Service was completed in September 2010, resulting in a 40-point plan to improve business processes, equipment maintenance and upgrades, staff training and procedures to increase efficiency and adjust existing resources to better serve water/sewer customers. To date, Utilities has begun to notice positive results upon completion of several action items, including:

* A 45 percent reduction in duplicate staff visits to customer homes after adding new handheld field equipment and upgrades to the billing system. These ongoing improvements help field staff fulfill service work orders more thoroughly and consistently, and convey results via a faster, uniform and paperless system with information that is electronically accessible by field, office & phone staff.
* Ninety-seven percent of Utilities telephone requests coming in to CharMeck 311 are processed within the first call, thanks to the creation of a 311 'Escalation Team' (E-Team) dedicated to addressing more complicated Utilities requests. This move has strengthened the relationship and connectivity between Utilities and 311 staff.
* Payment arrangement and bill adjustment policies have been updated (and procedures enhanced) to prevent service cut-off of accounts with disputed charges until high bill investigations are completed. The recently implemented one-time dispute resolution policy for qualified accounts has also helped resolve complex account issues.

Additionally, Utilities has enhanced its pre-billing quality control and high bill inspection processes with more in-depth field investigation and better communication with the customer. To address lingering concerns and dozens of outstanding and unresolved bill disputes, Utilities held a special on-site community event at the invitation of the River Run Property Owners Association on Saturday, November 20. This first-ever pilot program allowed for expedited one-on-one account reviews and field inspections to resolve outstanding issues, and provided citizens with information on meters, irrigation, billing and leak detection.

As a follow-up to the independent meter equipment audit conducted last summer, Utilities has started its own ongoing meter audit program to enhance equipment maintenance and inventory control. We are also working to improve customer bill messages, and strengthen communication with Crisis Assistance Ministry, which assists customers who face shut-off due to delinquency.

We will continue listening and responding to customers, and are committed to frequent and widely distributed customer service improvement progress updates as they occur. More details are available at Utilities Customer Service Improvements Page.


 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Cold is coming!
Protect your irrigation system from Old Man Winter

If you have an irrigation system, you also have a backflow prevention device. Now is the time to protect both from cold weather damage that can cause system leaks and high water bills.

Codes require certain types of commercial and residential water customers - those with irrigation systems, for example - to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies at their connection. Last winter, quite a few backflow assemblies froze and burst due to inadequate freeze protection.

Prepare your backflow device for winter:

* The best way to prevent freezing on an irrigation backflow connection is to drain the assembly of all water for the winter. Turn off your irrigation system at the shut-off valve and drain system, open test cocks and Shut-off valves on the assembly to discharge any water. Leave valves open 1/8 of a turn! Fully Open or Fully Closed will trap water behind the ball in the valve and that will leave the valve susceptible to freezing and damage to the valve.

* Whether your device/connection remains in use for the winter, be sure the backflow cover fits securely to the ground to prevent air infiltration. Check your cover for any cracks, holes, splits, etc.

* Wrap old blankets or beach towels around the assembly for temporary protection during the peak of the cold temperatures.

More tips are available here.


 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Don't Let Holiday Cooking Turn Costly

As Mecklenburg County residents prepare and enjoy their favorite holiday recipes, they may not realize a problem brewing just out of sight. Cooking grease and oils poured down kitchen sinks is the leading cause of sanitary sewer overflows in Charlotte. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest of the year for plumbers responding to private clogs and backups because of grease.

When residents pour leftover oils and grease down their drain or disposal, the grease accumulates in sewer pipes. As it cools, the liquid becomes a solid and can clog private plumbing or the City's sewer system. These blocked pipes lead to overflows from street manholes or backups into homes and apartments. Overflows can cause property damage and pollute our creeks and streams, but they are preventable.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities reminds residents to properly dispose of grease and oils this Thanksgiving.

* Cool leftover fats, oil and grease in a lidded container, and throw it in the trash.

* To help solidify grease, freeze your container, or add coffee grounds or kitty litter before disposing.

* Residents also may recycle grease at any full-service Mecklenburg County Recycling Center.

Keep your drains and garbage disposals Grease Free!

If you see or suspect a sewer overflow, please report it by calling 311.


 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Public Input needed for Water Rates Study

A second round of upcoming public meetings offers Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities customers their first chance to learn about and respond to alternative water and sewer rate and fee structures that could be proposed to Charlotte City Council in early 2011.

Water officials continue taking their first comprehensive look at water & sanitary sewer rates and fees since 1977. The utility's goal is to recommend an updated rate structure that is considered fair and equitable among different types of water/sewer customers, while generating revenues required to operate the community-owned water and sewer system.

"To be clear, this is a review of how customers are charged for water and sewer services they receive - not how much customers are charged," explained Utilities Director Barry Gullet. "It's important to hear from customers. Any change in the methods used to charge for service could affect residential, commercial, irrigation and other kinds of water customers in different ways."

Last month's first set of countywide meetings sought public input related to the existing water and sewer rate structure. This second series introduces potential rate & fee alternatives - and impacts - for public feedback. Details will also be posted online within the next two weeks.

Come to a public meeting (Details here).

Fourteen community volunteers are serving on a Water/Sewer Rate Study Stakeholders Advisory Group that will act as a sounding board during this process. Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., is the rate expert working with Utilities staff. A rate structure recommendation will be shared with the Utilities Advisory Group, the City Council Restructuring Government Committee and presented to City Council for consideration in February 2011.


 

Friday, October 15, 2010
Beware of Products Claiming to Reduce Water Bill,
Provide Free Water Quality Testing

Beware of products that claim to reduce water bills:

* Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities encourages customer to research and verify before purchasing products that claim to reduce water bills or remove 'impurities.'

* Customers can find general tips and alerts at the Better Business Bureau web site.

Beware of false or misleading information about Charlotte-Mecklenburg's water quality:

* No City or County staff goes door-to-door to sell anything. If a Utilities employee comes to your door for water testing purposes, he/she should be wearing identification and driving a white, marked City vehicle.

* Individual tastes will vary and some customers choose to install filters for that reason. However, tap water delivered to customers meets and often exceeds all health and safety standards and does not require additional filtration at home. Utilities conducts more than 150,000 water quality tests annually to monitor the safety of our community's drinking water. It's conceivable - but not often - that private plumbing issues could impact a customer's tap water quality.

* Tap water is not acidic. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A reading of 7 is neutral, with acids falling below 7 and bases above 7. Utilities adjusts the pH of tap water to slightly above 7 to reduce corrosion in water pipes.

* Chlorine is used in the treatment process to prevent waterborne illness, while fluoride provides a defense against tooth decay. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates drinking water and has set a safety limit of 4 parts per million (proportional to $0.04 in $10,000). In Charlotte, chlorine and fluoride levels in drinking water are well below that safety limit at about 1 ppm.

* Water hardness is defined by the amount of trace minerals present, such as calcium and magnesium. Water is considered 'hard' if it has more than 125 parts per million of trace minerals. Charlotte's tap water has an average of 34 ppm or 1.8 grains per gallon of trace minerals, so it is considered 'soft' water.

The safety of our customers' drinking water is the top priority for your clean water professionals at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities. Customers can dial 311 or 704-336-7600 if they have a water quality concern.

Gets Facts or Your Questions Answered Here

* EPA-required annual Water Quality Report that every city must produce and mail to customers.
* Frequently Asked Questions.
* Customers may also get information from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or visit www.epa.gov.
* Consumer Alert from Florida Attorney General.


 

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Biosolids Usage Generates Savings

The increased usage of biosolids for land application will result in a $300,000 savings for Utilities in FY10. Biosolids, residuals of the wastewater treatment process, are applied to local farms to replace lost nutrients in the soil. This year 78 percent of Utilities biosolids were land applied, as compared to 51 percent four years earlier. Land application is half the cost of the alternative landfill disposal. Utilities five wastewater treatment plants produce about 100,000 wet tons of biosolids annually. Utilities contracts with Synagro for land application and for landfill disposal of our biosolids in winter months.


 

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Recent Rains not Enough to Keep Basin Out of Drought

The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group (CW-DMAG) today announced that despite recent rainfall, late summer's dry and hot weather has put the Catawba-Wateree River Basin in a Stage 1 drought level of the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP). Stage 1 is the first of four drought stages outlined in the LIP and recommends voluntary water conservation by water users across the Basin.

In Stage 1, water users are encouraged to voluntarily reduce lawn and landscape irrigation as well as residential vehicle washing. Local water suppliers will provide additional guidance on voluntary reductions for their jurisdictions as appropriate.

"Recent rains were very beneficial, but not enough to restore the Basin's long-term streamflow and storage to normal conditions," said Ed Bruce, Duke Energy, CW-DMAG coordinator.

Two of the three LIP drought indicators (triggers) are in or below Stage 1: Water storage in the Basin's lakes has declined to 86 percent of Target Storage, and stream flows that feed the reservoirs are well below normal.

"Streams and lakes were not fully replenished by the recent rains," said Rock Hill Public Services Administrator Jimmy Bagley. "Citizens can help by continuing to use water wisely in their homes, yards, schools and businesses."

The CW-DMAG members have been monitoring conditions closely since the Basin entered a Stage 0 drought watch in early August. According to the process established by the LIP, members receive regular updates and meet at least monthly until conditions return to normal.

Drought and Weather Indicators
The CW-DMAG reviews the areas major drought indicators along with the National Weather Service's predictions of future weather trends.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows most of the basin in either abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.

The four-month average of area streamflows is below 65 percent of the historical four-month average and is in a Stage 2 Condition.

The reservoir storage index is below Target Storage levels and is in Stage 1 conditions.

Rainfall: Year-to-date rainfall through September is about 95 percent of long-term average, with a majority of the rainfall occurring earlier in the year. The National Weather Service is predicting an equal chance of normal, below normal or above normal precipitation in the Basin for October with a below average chance for normal rainfall from Charlotte and south through the end of the year.

The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group (CW-DMAG) was formed to regularly review the drought status and to recommend and coordinate needed actions for the CW-DMAG members. It also reviews the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) and recommends possible improvements to Duke Energy. Normally scheduled to meet once a year, the CW-DMAG meets at least monthly when LIP triggers indicate Stage 0 or greater. CW-DMAG members include the area's public water suppliers and several large industrial users that withdraw water from the Basin, NC and SC agencies, the US Geological Survey, and Duke Energy. The CW-DMAG and the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) are outcomes of Duke Energys relicensing process for the Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project. The LIP will become part of Duke Energy's New License for the Project to be issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Ways to Reduce Water Use available HERE.


 

Monday, October 4, 2010
Customer Service Update Presented to City Council

Link to Utilities Customer Service Page and October 4 presentation.


 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Industries Recognized For Environmental Stewardship

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities awarded 36 local industries this week for environmental excellence in protecting our community's water quality.

The award winners are among more than 60 permitted industries that discharge high-strength wastewater into the city's wastewater system. Their discharge permits and 'pretreatment' processes are monitored by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities System Protection section, whose mission is to protect the flow of wastewater into local treatment plants. This ensures proper treatment so that water can be safely returned to the environment.

Environmental Excellence Award winners have complied with their pollution discharge requirements, have cooperated fully with Utilities, and have exhibited a proactive and innovative approach to protecting water quality. Award Announcement PDF.

Crown Awards
Cintas Corporation and Barnhardt Manufacturing Company for significant water use reduction.
Norfolk Southern Railway * M.W. Roadway Shop for significant innovative technology or process improvement.

Gold Award
American Circuits, Inc. * Carrier Corporation * Chematron Incorporated * CPI Emerald Carolina Chemical, LLC * Environmental Pumping and Drain Line Solutions Mallard Creek Polymers Incorporated Masonry Reinforcing Corporation of America * Mecklenburg County 521 Foxhole Landfill Norfolk Southern Railway - M.W. Roadway Shop * Trane Charlotte * Water Systems

Silver Award
ALSCO Incorporated (3024) * Aplix, Inc. * Arjobex America * Barnhardt Manufacturing Company Cargill, Inc. *Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Company * Charleston Spar, Inc. * Cintas Corporation Cognis Corporation * Dow Chemical Company * Duff Norton Company * Frito Lay, Incorporated G&K Services * Herff Jones Inc. (Photo Division) * Independent Beverage Corporation International Paper * Jacobsen, A Textron Company * Lance, Incorporated Optical Experts Manufacturing * Pneumafil Corporation * Siemens Energy, Inc. Southeastern Metal Products, Inc. * Unifirst Corporation * Wallace Farm, Inc.


 

Friday, September 10, 2010
EPA Hearing Scheduled Regarding Proposed Coal Ash Regulations

The following was sent to Charlotte Mayor and City Council on Friday, September 10.

Charlotte is one of seven EPA national public hearing sites scheduled regarding the agency's proposal to regulate the disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power energy plants. The local hearing will take place at 10 AM Tuesday, September 14 at the Holiday Inn (Airport), 2707 Little Rock Road. According to the EPA news release (available online by clicking here ), the need for national management criteria and regulation was emphasized by the December 2008 spill of coal ash from a surface impoundment near Kingston, Tenn. Coal ash concerns and the proposed new regulations have received media coverage, and public interest at the EPA hearing in Charlotte is expected to be significant.

Recently, the Catawba Riverkeeper made public information inquiries to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities and generally expressed concerns about potential water quality contamination along the Catawba River and to Charlotte's drinking water due to discharges from Duke Energy's regulated coal ash facilities - and particularly the Riverbend Station, located upstream of Charlotte's primary drinking water intake.

Mecklenburg County monitors water quality in the Catawba River, and to date all test results for specific metals with discernible links to coal ash discharge do not indicate a health concern. Charlotte's treated drinking water is continuously tested and consistently meets and exceeds all federal and state standards for safety, as detailed in the annual water quality report and further demonstrated by the Safe Drinking Water Excellence Award we received from EPA Region IV last spring.

In a written response to the Riverkeeper last month, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities generally described its Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which is not exclusive to coal ash and lists steps to be taken in the event of any short-term or long-term interruption in the availability of safe drinking water - including mechanical failure or supply contamination, due to naturally occurring events or man-made conditions. Utilities also has storage, monitoring, redundant facilities and a water shortage response plan in place to address water contamination or water supply emergencies. We regularly participate in regional and national emergency management work groups (including FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers) to analyze responses if water supplies were lost.

Additionally, Utilities met with Duke Energy to learn more about the coal ash basins at Riverbend. We are satisfied and confident that Duke is maintaining and inspecting the ash basins to protect public health and the water supply and remains in full compliance with existing state regulations. Our research further reinforces to us that the likelihood of a coal ash basin failure at Riverbend is extremely remote - and if a failure occurred, it's feasible that our existing facilities and processes could treat through it.

Citizens can rest assured their tap water is safe to drink. For more information about water quality topics in our community, we encourage folks to visit www.cmutilities.com.


 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Water-Sewer Rate Study Seeks Citizen Input

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities customers are urged to attend upcoming information and public input sessions related to the first comprehensive review of water/sewer rates and fees since 1977.

"We're taking a fresh look at rates and fees charged for the essential water and sewer services we deliver, to see if there are better alternatives," said Barry Gullet, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Director. "We need to hear from customers."

As a public service, Gullet emphasized the utility's goal is "to recommend a rate structure that is considered fair and equitable, while generating the revenues required to operate the water and sewer system."

Two sets of five public meetings are scheduled across Mecklenburg County. The first series, which starts next week, will include presenting information and gathering input related to the existing water and sewer rate structure. The second series begins in late October/early November and will introduce potential rate & fee alternatives for public feedback.

WEST MEETINGS - September 14 and October 26. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at Clanton Pavilion in Clanton Park, 3132 Manchester Ave.

CENTRAL MEETINGS - September 15 at Noon, and October 27 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center (1st floor Meeting Chambers), 600 East 4th Street. These meetings will be shown on the GOVChannel (Time-Warner Cable channel 16) and streamed from www.cmutilities.com & www.charmeck.org. An online rate study comment form is available.

NORTH MEETINGS - September 15 and October 28. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at Lee S. Dukes Water Treatment Plant, 7980 Babe Stillwell Road, in Huntersville.

SOUTH MEETINGS - September 16 and November 3. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m. and will be held in the South County Regional Library, 5801 Rea Road.

EAST MEETINGS - September 21 and November 4. Both meetings start at 6 p.m. and will be held at Hickory Grove United Methodist Church, 6401 Hickory Grove Road.

Fifteen community volunteers are serving on a Water/Sewer Rate Study Stakeholders Advisory Group that will act as a sounding board during this process. Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., is the rate expert working with Utilities staff. A rate structure recommendation will be shared with the Utilities Advisory Group, the City Council Restructuring Government Committee and presented to City Council for consideration in February 2011. Visit www.cmutilities.com for rate study details and updates .


 

Monday, August 30, 2010
30 Billion Gallons Recycled Last Year
Utilities Protects Environment through Safe, Effective Wastewater Treatment

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities successfully collected and treated more than 30 billion gallons of the community's wastewater during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. Plants earned performance awards while pipe crews maintained and improved the infrastructure and responded to nine fewer wastewater overflows.

Wastewater overflows are still a community challenge. "Grease poured down kitchen drains caused more than half of the overflows," said Utilities spokesman Cam Coley. "Customers can help protect the environment - and their plumbing - by pouring fats, oils, and grease in a disposable jar and pitching it into the trash, instead of down the drain."

In the September water bill, customers will receive a summary of the annual wastewater report. The reports will also be posted on www.cmutilities.com under "Education."


 

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Follow-up pipe repair scheduled for Saturday following Friday's gas leak & neighborhood evacuation

A 3/4 inch gas line that was inadvertently installed directly through an existing 8 inch sewer line was subsequent damaged by sewer line cleaning crews yesterday, prompting a gas leak discovered later in the afternoon that led to a multi-agency emergency response including CFD and temporary evacuation of residents near the 1800 block of Chinchester Lane.

The gas line was shut off to allow gas that had seeped into the sewer mains to dissipate. Within a couple of hours the area was deemed safe and most residents were back in their homes by 8 pm Friday. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities worked with emergency response officials and Piedmont Natural Gas to diagnose the source of the leak based on the location of the gas odor and the timing of both recent gas line installation and yesterday's sewer line maintenance work in the same area. Suspicions were confirmed using a closed-circuit TV camera to locate and inspect the damaged section of gas line from inside the pierced sewer pine. A City sewer line maintenance crew had been working on the sewer earlier yesterday, and by mid afternoon a natural gas leak was detected. City public safety and utlity officials were contacted to shut down gas service to the area and evacuate residents while Utiliteis and PNC pinpointed the problem source. The camera showed the sewer maintenance crew most likely clipped the out-of-place gas line while cleaning the sewer pipe. "Utilities maintenance crews had no reason to expect a misplaced gas line running through the sewer pipe," saud Utilities spokesman Vic Simpson. "But once we all verified what exactly had occurred we worked together to respond appropriately. Protecting public safety and the environment were our top priorities."

Piedmont Natural Gas crews were scheduled to complete their capping of the broken gas line and install a new replacement gas line -- away from the sewer main -- on Friday evening. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities crews were scheduled Saturday to more deeply inspect and fix any problems with the sewer pipe on Saturday. The sewer line remains functional despite the damage from the smaller gas line bore-through.


 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Catawba-Wateree Drought Advisory Group Issues Watch Stage

This afternoon the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group will issue a Stage 0 (Watch) advisory based on current weather and water supply conditions throughout the river basin covering portions of North Carolina and South Carolina.

This watch stage requires all group participants  including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities and Duke Energy  to more frequently check in with each other regarding monitoring of lake levels, stream flows that supply the lakes, and rainfall accumulations. These three indicators are compared to historical levels for guidance on future recommended actions regarding the water supply.

Charlotte Mecklenburg remains actively involved in the basin group that regularly collects and analyzes water and weather data. Water consumption by citizens in this community remains normal for this time of year. Current weather and water supply conditions are moderately below the desired target levels for this time of year.

There is no clear indication at this time that further actions will be necessary but we will provide further updates as circumstances require them. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities continues promoting efficient water use and educating citizens on ways to improve their water habits through ongoing outreach that includes effective landscaping irrigation and indoor conservation tips at www.cmutilities.com, WaterSmart bill inserts, civic presentations and school tours, an ongoing showerhead exchange program and in-home customer water audits upon request.


 

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Piedmont Row Drive (formerly JA Jones Drive)

Crews have two lanes closed on Piedmont Row Drive (formerly JA Jones Drive, on Ruth's Chris Steakhouse side). A lane is open in each direction. All lanes on Fairview Road are open. Drivers can also use Park South Drive as an alternate to get to Fairview Road.

Crews are repairing a wastewater pipe through Thursday evening.


 

Thursday, July 1, 2010
EPA Region IV Safe Drinking Water Act Excellence Award

This is a federal award recognizing Charlotte's water professionals for providing consistently superior drinking water treatment and safe delivery to citizens.

This is a particularly significant recognition because it highlights our community water system among nominees from EPA Southeast Region 4 (8 states). Our state regulators and industry peers in N.C. endorsed Charlotte-Mecklenburg as North Carolina's nominee for this award in the large surface system category; ultimately our federal regulators in Atlanta selected Charlotte as the EPA honoree for the southeast US region.

The award recognizes the sustained, comprehensive team effort, commitment and expertise required to provide safe drinking water - including plant operation and consistently outstanding water treatment, and supporting services like quality control, distribution, maintenance, customer service, system capacity planning, financial management, rates & programs that encourage water efficiency and community outreach.


 

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wastewater Treatment Plant Peak Performance Awards

2009 Peak Performance Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)- These national industry awards recognize Charlotte's wastewater treatment plant professionals and supporting staff for protecting the environment and public health through outstanding treatment and discharge permit compliance. Each plant has its own federal permit issued and is subject to stringent treatment requirements and discharge limits for specific substances. Every hour of every day, the highly treated wastewater effluent recycled back into our local creeks and streams is a crucial part of our region's water cycle!

Charlotte's NACWA Peak Performance Honorees for calendar year 2009 include:

McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
PLATINUM AWARD for second year (which means 6 consecutive years of perfect performance)

Mallard Creek Water Reclamation Facility
PLATINUM AWARD for 5 consecutive years of perfect compliance

McAlpine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
GOLD AWARD for 1 year of perfect compliance (this is their 4th consecutive gold)

Irwin Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
GOLD AWARD for perfect compliance

Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
SILVER AWARD for five 5 or fewer violations in a one-year period.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has a primary goal to serve customers," said Utilities Director Barry Gullet. "Our employees are proud of their professional achievements toward this one goal, which allowed these awards to happen. We are proud of our dedicated workforce that makes this system run, and prouder to serve the community that supports it."


 

Monday, June 28, 2010
Carolina Panthers Win Water Star Award

The Carolina Panthers won this year's Water Star Award.
Click here for details on the Carolina Panthers website.

The Panthers organization was chosen for this year's Water Star Award because of their long time activities to reduce water consumption and improve water use efficiency.

Recently the Panthers converted their irrigation equipment to smart irrigation controllers designed to reduce water use, water runoff and water waste while irrigating their facilities. The Panthers organization has an established history of working with Utilities to conserve and protect our water supply.


 

Monday, June 7, 2010
Report Reflects Excellent Tap Water Quality

Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents will open mailboxes next week to find the Water Quality Report, which summarizes the quality of our community's tap water in calendar year 2009. Charlotte's drinking water once again meets and exceeds all drinking water standards, and Utilities had no water quality violations.

Highlights of this year's Water Quality Report
+ At the level of treatment Utilities provides, Charlotte-Mecklenburg tap water is 10 times less likely to have contamination compared with federal standards.
+ The levels of the few substances detected in the water were well below federal drinking water limits and posed no health threat.
+ Utilities test for more than 150 different substances and conducted more than 150,000 tests on drinking water in 2009.

The EPA requires large water systems to produce and mail this report directly to customers. In addition to the results of water quality tests, readers also will find details about Charlotte's drinking water sources, the treatment process and some commonly asked questions.

"Providing clean, safe drinking water at an affordable price is what we're all about," said Interim Director Barry Gullet. "Our customers pay much less than one cent per gallon, and they can be confident that the water delivered to their faucet is high quality."

Click here to read the report.


 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Customer Service Improvements Continue at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities

Utilities will initiate a countywide water meter equipment audit on May 19. Auditors will check 9,000 water meters and transmitters as part of a comprehensive program to enhance existing quality assurance and improve customer service.

Click Here for details.


 

Friday, April 30, 2010
Biosolids Program Recognized by National Magazine

Utilities wastewater treatment / biosolids staff was highlighted in Treatment Plant Operator, a national industry magazine. The article focuses on the teamwork, training, challenges and rewards of converting wastewater into quality fertilizer for farms. Click here to read the article.

Utilities treats an average of 81 million gallons of wastewater every day. Biosolids are the safe nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage at a wastewater treatment facility. By treating sewage sludge, Utilities creates biosolids that can be used as valuable farm fertilizer instead of taking up space in a landfill or other disposal facility. Biosolids are carefully monitored in accordance with regulatory requirements.


 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
McDowell Creek WWTP Achieves ISO 14001 Certification

The McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Huntersville achieved the prestigious ISO 14001:2004 certification, making it the third Utilities work team in three years to demonstrate environmental leadership and efficiency in this way.

The International Organization for Standardization creates international standards for business and government entities to promote increased quality, environmental consciousness, safety and efficiency. The 14001:2004 certification addresses various aspects of environmental management. The framework to do that, called an Environmental Management Systems (EMS), is a tool to:

* Identify and control environmental impact.
* Improve environmental performance continually.
* Implement a systematic approach to setting and achieving environmental objectives and demonstrating those were achieved.

The ISO program brought more consistency to the way wastewater plants operate, identified efficiencies and minimizes environmental risks.

"The EMS is a very effective continuous improvement tool in developing a strong, efficient operation with a knowledgeable team that successfully achieves our goals to protect the environment," said Jackie Jarrell, superintendent of the Utilities Environmental Management Division. "This is a true dynamic and sustainable program that has immediate and long-term benefits for the utility and our community."

In addition to the McDowell Creek plant, the Mallard Creek Water Reclamation Facility in the University area and the Utilities biosolids program also are ISO 14001:2004 certified. The Utilities ISO program has been implemented solely through internal staff efforts, an uncommon and cost-saving achievement. As a result of implementing the ISO program, Utilities has seen significant savings in operating costs totaling about $290,000 in a year. The utility plans to continue the ISO program at its three other wastewater treatment facilities as resources allow.


 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Field Operations Receives Grant to Replace Aging Diesel Engines

Utilities has received funding from Mecklenburg County Air Quality's Grants to Replace Aging Diesel Engines (GRADE) program. Based on the success of GRADE and the programs that followed in 2007 and 2008, MCAQ received $1.1 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand it. GRADE+ now includes 13 counties in North and South Carolina and has been expanded to include construction, agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors operating non-road diesel, on-road heavy duty diesel and stationary diesel equipment.

This allowed Utilities to partner with Street Maintenance in a joint application. Together, the departments will receive a $79,515 reimbursement toward replacing six diesel engines, five of which are for the Utilities Field Operations division. Engines in four 100-horsepower air compressors and one 100-horsepower backhoe/loader will be replaced. The grant award represents 75 percent of the project cost and will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 7.93 tons over the life of the equipment. The replacements will occur this summer, with project completion by Sept. 1, 2010.

"Replacing these older diesel engines is a very tangible way we can enhance the City's fleet and equipment, making it more fuel efficient while improving air quality," said Utilities Field Operations Manager Angela Lee. "We feel fortunate this grant opportunity helps us move toward that goal." By repowering or replacing old, high-emitting diesel engines with newer engines and technology, MCAQ anticipates achieving more than 166 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx)reductions in our bi-state region over the next five years.


 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
FRIDAY, 4/23, 2 PM UPDATE Repair along the 4000 block of S. Tryon Street complete; all lanes back open.

Utilities finished its repair of the 24-inch water main yesterday along the 4000 block of S. Tryon Street. Following roadway restoration work today all lanes of traffic are now reopened.


 

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Utilities Budget Update
presented on April 14, 2010

The presentation to City Council followed two recent sessions with the Restructuring Government Committee on March 11 and March 25. These provided in-depth information about the policies, capital projects, service level requirements, revenue requirements and other components of the Utilities budget that help drive water and sewer rate decisions.

Operating and Capital Cuts

* Reduced operating expenses through a hiring freeze now in its third year. A total of 97 positions are unfunded in the current year, and about 30 more vacancies remain frozen of the utility's 817 positions.
* Delayed some construction projects and water/wastewater system improvements.
* Gained operating savings through energy efficiency and competition programs.

The Effects

While high-quality water and wastewater services are still being provided around the clock, customers are feeling the effects of operating cuts:

* Customer service improvements are needed, and the City is working to address those.
* Longer response time to water leaks. We are down 19 field crews due to vacant and unfunded positions.
* Non-essential equipment and infrastructure maintenance is being deferred.

The Picture for 2011

Despite making cuts, Utilities projects an additional $13.4 million will be needed to cover rising costs in these areas:
* Needed operating expenses (chemicals, power, property insurance, retirement system, customer service improvements, etc.) = $4 million
* Debt service (the "mortgage payment" on past and current system improvements.) = $7 million
* Meeting financial goals to retain our superior AAA bond rating (retaining this keeps interest rates low, saving Utilities and customers millions annually.)

What's Next?

Utilities provided the Restructuring Government Committee and City Council some rate scenarios as they face the tough task of considering a possible rate increase. There is no recommendation at this time regarding a water and sewer rate increase. Any recommended water and sewer rate increase would be part of the City Manager's budget proposal expected in early May.

Utilities is a community-owned water system. It provides about 100 million gallons a day in clean, safe drinking water and cleans about 80 million gallons of wastewater daily. As an enterprise fund, Utilities is funded solely through water and sewer rates.


 

Friday, March 26, 2010
UTILITIES BUDGET UPDATE

On March 25, Utilities made its second presentation this month to the Charlotte City Council Restructuring Government Committee. Similar to the first presentation on March 11, the purpose of the presentation was to provide the five-member Restructuring Government Committee with details about policies, Utilities capital projects, service level requirements, revenue requirements and other components of the Utilities budget and rates as we head into the FY11 budget season.

Like other public service agencies and private sector companies facing funding challenges, Utilities has already delayed some discretionary construction projects and reduced operating expenses by freezing 97 vacant staff positions during the current fiscal year. Additionally, 30 more vacant positions remain frozen right now. Over time, the utility has also recouped significant operating savings through energy efficiency programs and a competition program - nearly 20 years old - where Utilities staff regularly bid against the private sector to provide specific in-house, utility-related services.

High-quality and essential drinking water and wastewater services continue being provided around the clock by a workforce of less than 700 employees, compared to a utility operation that normally totals 817 positions when fully staffed. There is no question the Utilities operating cuts and hiring freeze, now in its third year, have resulted in some service level impacts for customers. Leaks are taking longer to fix than they should, some equipment and infrastructure maintenance is being deferred and customer service is not where it needs to be.

With the continued economic slowdown, this community-owned water/sewer operation and the City Council face another tough budget year where additional customer revenue - currently projected at $13.4 million - will be needed to cover the cost of increases in operating expenses, debt service, capital improvements and meeting established financial goals to retain our AAA utility bond rating. (Retaining this superior bond rating saves the utility millions per year in debt interest payments, a savings that is passed on to customers by keeping rates extremely competitive.)

Council members have asked for this detailed information about Utilities as Council faces the tough task of considering any water/sewer rate increase. As part of the ongoing discussion, some possible rate increase scenarios were provided at the Council Restructuring Government Committee on March 25, based on existing policy and rate setting methodology. Council also asked Utilities to provide a few other scenarios that could be considered if existing policies and methodologies were revised. Utilities will be working on those requests and will present that information to Council at the April 14 budget retreat.

Please be advised there is no Fiscal Year 2011 recommendation at this time regarding water and sewer rate increase for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities customers. Any recommended water and sewer rate increase would come as part of the City Manager's Citywide Budget Proposal, which would come out in early May.


 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Utilities Customer Service Update                         

Yesterday, the Cornelius Mayor's appointed 13-member citizen task force released its report of findings related to high water bill concerns expressed in recent months. The full 18-page report, available at www.cornelius.org, cites 24 recommendations that are categorized in the areas of financial management, customer service and technical measurement & reporting.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities and the City of Charlotte deeply appreciate the work of the task force and the community leaders who supported this process. We also appreciate the other contact with citizens across the countywide service area, especially as it relates to concerns or questions related to billing. We recognize the importance of earning our customer's trust and satisfaction. There is no doubt that accurately billing customers for the services they receive is crucial to retaining public support for this community-owned operation. We are grateful for all the patience as we continue researching and addressing these concerns. Utilities staff also worked closely with members of the task force as they worked on their report, and we look forward to other opportunities to continue that relationship. It will take time to process the task force findings and Utilities and City management will review and respond promptly. There may be recommendations that can be considered and implemented quickly, but many findings speak to policy and rate issues that may take longer to address. With that said, there are three ways City management plans to address issues in the stakeholder report:

1. The Utilities Advisory Committee, a seven-member citizen committee, will receive the task force report and consider the recommendations starting at this week's meeting. This is yet another avenue for communication and collaboration between the stakeholders and Utilities that can be forwarded to and considered by Utilities and City management and to Charlotte City Council. 2. The City-sponsored Evaluation/Restructuring of Utilities Customer Service has begun. This Evaluation was recommended by the Charlotte City Manager and will review a wide series of operational and customer service business processes and policies. The Cornelius task force recommendations are among specific areas to be addressed, and elements of the task force report are closely aligned with business process and policy reviews already under way in the Evaluation project. The Evaluation will be completed by September. Some specific action items may take longer; some may be completed sooner. 3. The Charlotte City Council Restructuring Government Committee is already considering Utilities budget and rate issues. Some of the policy recommendations are closely aligned with the work of the Restructuring Government Committee. In summary, there is much more information forthcoming with established paths for many of these issues to follow. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities and the City remain committed to continuous improvements in customer service, and building a stronger relationship with the task force, and all customers and citizens. We will communicate our progress as we go. Thank you for your continued support and the opportunity to serve you.


 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Beware of Products Claiming to Reduce Water Bill,
Provide Free Water Quality Testing

Beware of products that claim to reduce water bills:

* Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities encourages customer to research and verify before purchasing products that claim to reduce water bills or remove 'impurities.'
* Customers can find general tips and alerts at the Better Business Bureau web site (http://charlotte.bbb.org/).

Beware of false or misleading information about Charlotte-Mecklenburg's water quality:

* No City or County staff goes door-to-door to sell anything. If a Utilities employee comes to your door for water testing purposes, he/she should be wearing identification and driving a white, marked City vehicle.

* Individual tastes will vary and some customers choose to install filters for that reason. However, tap water delivered to customers meets and often exceeds all health and safety standards and does not require additional filtration at home. Utilities conducts more than 150,000 water quality tests annually to monitor the safety of our community's drinking water. It's conceivable - but not often - that private plumbing issues could impact a customer's tap water quality.

* Tap water is not acidic. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A reading of 7 is neutral, with acids falling below 7 and bases above 7. Utilities adjusts the pH of tap water to slightly above 7 to reduce corrosion in water pipes.

* Chlorine is used in the treatment process to prevent waterborne illness, while fluoride provides a defense against tooth decay. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates drinking water and has set a safety limit of 4 parts per million (proportional to $0.04 in $10,000). In Charlotte, chlorine and fluoride levels in drinking water are well below that safety limit at about 1 ppm.

* Water hardness is defined by the amount of trace minerals present, such as calcium and magnesium. Water is considered 'hard' if it has more than 125 parts per million of trace minerals. Charlotte's tap water has an average of 34 ppm or 1.8 grains per gallon of trace minerals, so it is considered 'soft' water.

Customers can get the facts from the EPA-required annual water quality report that every city must produce and mail to customers. Charlotte-Mecklenburg customers can review their drinking water data at the 'publications' link at www.cmutilities.com. Customers may also get information from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or visit www.epa.gov.

The safety of our customers' drinking water is the top priority for your clean water professionals at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities. Customers can dial 311 or 704-336-7600 if they have a water quality concern.


 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Utilities Wins National Award for Educational Water Video

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities (Utilities) earned national recognition among industry peers for its new educational video, called "Clean Water for a Healthy Community." The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) selected Utilities to receive their 2010 National Environmental Achievement Award in Public Information & Education Award - Video Category.

Each year, Utilities staff provide tours and speak to more than 7,000 children and adults at neighborhood association meetings each year. "From those meetings we saw an opportunity," said Cam Coley, spokesperson for Utilities, "to create a short video to show the value of clean water and how water and wastewater services are provided."

"This was a collaborative effort. We appreciate the significant assistance we received from the City of Charlotte's Corporate Communications, Charlotte Fire Department, Health Department, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Land Use and Environmental Services Agency, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Advisory Chairman, and coworkers.

"We are pleased to be recognized," Coley said, "and we plan to add more educational videos to our website."

The video is available on www.cmutilities.com.