State Cites Utility Company for Sewer Collection System Failures

Raleigh, North Carolina

The Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources (DWR) has fined Sandler Utilities at Mill Run, LLC $62,517.96 for failure to effectively manage, maintain and operate its sewer collection system that serves the Eagle Creek Subdivision, a community of approximately 400 homes located in Moyock, in Currituck County.

 

DWR received complaints from homeowners beginning September 29, 2020 indicating that the Eagle Creek collection system was not operating and Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) were ongoing. Sewage generated in the development is conveyed from homes by a vacuum sewer collection system to a central wastewater plant located within the subdivision. Residents reported being without reliable sewer service for about two weeks. The cause was identified as failures of the sewer system’s vacuum pumps and related components, as well as other collection system infrastructure, which led to wastewater overflows throughout the development. There were some instances of wastewater backing up into residents’ homes, creating public health concerns.

 

On October 7, 2020, DWR issued a Notice of Violation to the collection-system permit-holder for Eagle Creek, Sandler Utilities, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Sandler has provided DWR with a response to the violation notice.

 

Following DWR’s investigation, a civil penalty was assessed at $60,000.00, based on factors including the degree and extent of harm to the environment, public health and private property, with an additional $2,517.96 fee for investigative costs. Sandler Utilities has 30 days to respond to the permit violation assessment with options to pay the fine, file an appeal, or request an adjustment of the penalty amount.

 

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