JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–In Jacksonville, waste water treatment officials enacted emergency irrigation Monday morning after treatment lagoons reached overflow thresholds.
“With the pending weather event and the rain forecasted for the month, we have to do this to prevent the burms from overflowing,” Pete Deaver, utilities maintenance superintendent, said.
18,000 thousand gallons of water per minute are sprayed from irrigation lines in the forest to reduce the levels of the lagoons while delivering treated waste water back into the natural environment.
“In our south lagoon we’re about 13.5 feet in depth, and in the east and west lagoons we are about 10.5 feet,” Deaver said. The south lagoon starts overflowing at 16 feet.
Officials are getting ahead of the storm’s predicted heavy rainfalls by setting up bypass pumps and generators across the city in the event of waste water overflow and backup.
“If it rises and comes out through your pipes, toilets, or drains it can displace you just like a flood,” Deaver said. “It’s an inconvenience that we’re trying to prevent.”
The emergency irrigation also requires water testing of three nearby creeks: Deep Run, Southwest and Harris creeks.
“During emergency spraying, we are spraying more than we normally would so it’s just to track to see how much runoff leaves the site,” Jill Puff, supervising chemist, said “Normally we don’t see any adverse effects of our irrigation.”
Chemists test for nutrients like phosphorous, nitrogen and bacteria. Testing is typically conducted on a quarterly basis, and always during an emergency spray event.
The emergency irrigation will continue during all weather conditions for the next day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are nine spray zones. Three are irrigated at a time and officials will rotate the zones throughout the day.
The city is closely monitoring its pump station at the land treatment site and another one along Highway 17. There are 45 across the city.
If you notice any backed up water during the storm give the land treatment plant a call at 910-938-5324.