Flushing and the growth of the Queen City

Before cranes build the next skyscraper or apartment complex, developers must reach out to Charlotte Water to see if the wastewater infrastructure has the capacity for the increase in the-ahem-flow.

From the pipes that carry your wastewater to the treatment plants, to the plants themselves, they all have a specific amount of wastewater that they can hold and treat before the system gets overwhelmed. If a building with say 600 new units wants to be developed but our pipes couldn’t handle the extra waste then development halts until the capacity issue is resolved. This delay in construction is not good for business or the growth of our city, so that is where our Capacity Assurance Program comes in. Our highly trained engineers, who take projected growth and future developments into consideration, review the capacity of our entire system. In calendar year 2018 Charlotte Water received 391 separate requests, it is anticipated that there will be more than 600 requests by the end of 2019.

This isn’t something that we just eyeball, there is a science to it. We anticipate a specific number of gallons of wastewater will be produced from each particular type of development, as you can see below:

  • 190 gallons per day for each dwelling unit for single-family residential areas (including townhouses).
  • 135 gallons per day for each multi-family residential unit.
  • 25 gallons per employee/shift for office space.

This information helps our engineers know whether a new or redeveloped site can handle the increase in wastewater and respond appropriately to each developers request for access to the wastewater system. A major part of our capital budget, which is funded through water and sewer rates, goes towards increasing the capacity of our system.

Our staff works hard to make sure we anticipate growth and perform projects to increase capacity before development starts. Our recent wastewater project near Barringer Drive is a great example of upsizing pipes to fit new developments.

“This project is a success story,” said Angela Lee, Director of Charlotte Water.  “We were going to clean and install a new liner in the pipe. Before we started, the service area started to redevelop and we were able to quickly change course and upsize the pipe before major private developments started building vertically. This project is one of many that show our passion to serve the public and the ability to deliver on-time commitments to the community.”

The original wastewater pipes were eight to ten inches in diameter, the new pipes are now 18 or 24 inches in diameter. The total cost of the project was $2.5 million.

“While we installed the wastewater pipe, private developers were able to start their construction as well. Our new pipe was in service before the developments were completed.”

Charlotte Water has made sure the Capacity Assurance Program aligns with the development time frame from conception to completion to support rather than impede the growth of Charlotte.

For more information about other projects being done throughout Mecklenburg County to increase capacity,  and improve water quality and reliability visit our website.