Category Archives: How Things Work

Who You Gonna Call? It’s 311.

If you haven’t already heard, when you have a problem or question about Charlotte or Mecklenburg services, it’s best to call 311. CharMeck 311 is the region’s customer service line to have your city service questions answered and assessed. 311 was introduced to the area almost 20 years ago in 2005 as a consolidation of services. Before, residents were directed to contact services and utilities separately to have issues resolved. Since then, 311 has received tens of millions of calls that range from tax questions to water issues, animal control, and more. They even get out into the community for in person events to answer your questions! They have a standing engagement at your local libraries if you would like to speak to them in person.

311 On The Go at a local event recently

You may wonder, how does an agent get information for a caller at the drop of a hat? Surely they don’t just know all the information off the top of their heads? Agents are trained to use an application the city calls Emerald. It is essentially an internal search engine with which agents are trained to look up keywords to find solutions to questions quickly. Emerald is kept up to date with current city projects and programs so the information you get is current and reliable.

Customer service representatives are trained to handle different types of requests, with the most senior representatives trained to handle any type of call that comes in. The agents are masters of multitasking by providing service to callers via phone or online and inputting information and requests through a myriad of forms. In this role, many agents become extremely well versed in a variety of city subject matters and some even move to different departments in the city as incredible assets to their new teams with their wealth of city knowledge.

To maintain consistent quality over time with new agents being hired, 311 commits exceptional effort to training and quality control. Regina Peralta, a Quality Assurance Analyst at 311, offered the insight that 311 is unique as a call center as it is a public service rather than a traditional private company helpline. Agents receive calls from a wide audience of people that have a large variety of needs, and it is a tough job to be sure everyone is served with the same care and quality.

Zekia Young, Senior Customer Service Representative

At 311, the agents live and thrive in the same communities they serve. Pictured above is Zekia Young. She’s been with 311 for over 18 years since 311 opened in 2005. I had the pleasure of sitting with her for an afternoon as she took calls and she handled each one with poise and professionalism. I asked her what she hopes for the public to know, and she said that she hopes that people understand that the team at 311 works hard every day to accurately satisfy the needs of the community.

To contact 311, you have a few options!

You may call the service center and speak to someone like Zekia from 7am-7pm Monday through Friday. You may also utilize an online chat feature to speak to a real human during those hours (trust me, I witnessed it myself).

Otherwise, you may submit service requests online or via the CLT+ app. For more information, visit the 311 contact page.

How Do Water Towers Work?

Charlotte Water (CLTWater) employees dedicate their efforts to delivering safe, reliable water from the river to the tap. CLTWater has 11 elevated storage tanks. Our water treatment operators fill the tanks each night to prepare for morning use. Each day they refill as needed.

CLTWater sees a more than 50% increase in water use during the summertime for lawn irrigation.

Fast Facts:

  • Water pressure is mostly due to the elevation of storage tanks relative to the elevation of your home or business.
  • Elevated storage tanks help CLTWater provide consistent, stabilized pressure in the distribution system and ensure optimal fire protection for the public. 
  • CLTWater storage tanks are storing up-to-20 million gallons. 
  • Each tank is inspected and cleaned every 2-3 years.
  • Water within our storage tanks is turned over on a daily basis in order to ensure lower residence time within the distribution and aid in the conveyance of the highest water quality to customers. 

Water Pressure in Charlotte

Water pressure may vary a little every day. A home or business doesn’t experience a significant change in pressure unless moved to another pressure zone, a temporary surge in water usage or directional flow shift, an emergency water main break, or if CLTWater physically increases or decreases the height of storage tanks. These cases are extremely rare.

Higher water pressures are in geographically low points (near a creek) in a water pressure zone. Property owners may need to install a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) to protect their plumbing if the psi is over 80 psi. You can buy a gauge at a home improvement store to check your pressure.

Learn more:

Charlotte Water Pressure

Homeowner’s Responsibility (Where Does Private Plumbing Begin?)

Water Service Replacement

Fixing At Home Leaks

Water Conservation Tips

Charlotte Water Advisory Committee

How was the Advisory Committee created?

The Advisory Committee was formed in June 1991. The agreement that formed the group was signed by Mayor Sue Myrick and Board of County Commissioners Chairperson T. Rodney Autrey. ​

The agreement requires that three members will be appointed by the County Commission, three by City Council and one by the Charlotte city mayor. With the exception of the town representative, the members of the Committee must be actively involved in one of the following categories: real estate developer, water and/or sewer contractor, civil engineer specializing in water/sewer construction, financial expert and neighborhood leader. This composition of skill sets was suggested by a 13-member citizen committee that reviewed Utilities policies from April to November 1990, which recommended the five-member Community Facilities Committee be transitioned to seven members with these characteristics. 

When are the Advisory Committee meetings?

Advisory Committee Meetings are typically on the third Thursday of each month between 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. at 4222 Westmont Drive (Conference Room C), Charlotte NC 28217.​

What are the Advisory Committee duties?

To review and make recommendations on the following: all capital improvement programs for water and sewer facilities and changes to such programs; proposed changes in the method for determining water and sewer charges; proposed changes in policy for extending water and sewer services. 

What are the Advisory Commitee memeber’s time requirements?

Members commit approximately 1.5 hours per month. Members are appointed to three-year terms and may be appointed to one additional term to coincide right after the first term.

Who appoints the Advisory Committee?

There are seven members (one appointed by Mayor of Charlotte; three by Charlotte City Council; three by Mecklenburg County Commissioners).​

Who is on the Advisory Committee?

Leslie Jones is the Chairperson and Frank McMahan is the Vice Chairman.  

Other members are:

  • Barbara Bleiweis
  • Gordon Miller
  • Grayson Rountree
  • Bill Cornett
  • Dan Melvin

How do I apply for Advisory Committee?

Applications for City Boards and Commissions are available here.

Advisory Meeting Minutes

February 2023

January 2023

November 2022

October 2022

September 2022

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

Apprenticeship Program Field Operations Boot Camp

Charlotte Water created the City of Charlotte’s first water/wastewater industry apprenticeship program to increase jobs, training, and opportunities for individuals with multiple ​​employment barriers. The apprenticeship program is custom-designed to help individuals achieve the training and experience needed for a successful career at Charlotte Water.

Our second cohort of nine apprentices started in July. After going through orientation and some soft skills training, they are assigned an area to work, either in wastewater or field operations. This entire cohort was assigned to the field operations division. Field operations is our largest division, and the staff is in charge of maintaining the water and wastewater distribution system. Duties include main extensions, leak repairs, sanitary sewer overflow response and cleanup, wastewater pipe cleaning, maintenance of water monitoring stations, and much more.

Before the apprentices get assigned to a zone and a crew, they must go through a seven-week field operations boot camp where they learn how to do the job efficiently and safely.

Below are some photos taken by some the apprentices during boot camp.

Apprentices learn how to properly install a trench box during a pipe repair.
Apprentice Chevorne Lewis learns how to use a jackhammer to break concrete

Apprentices go through a water main leak simulation.
A tamping machine is a tough machine to handle and requires strength and focus.
Various items that apprentices need to know how to use for a repair or install.
Theirry Capongo experiences what 919 gallons per minute feels like from a flushing hydrant

The great thing about the apprenticeship program is that it doesn’t just benefit the apprentices, it also benefits current staff members. It provides them with additional leadership opportunities as apprentice mentors and trainers. In most cases these staff have then been promoted to new positions afterwards.

Group shot with Charlotte Water field operations crew member and trainer Jontavious Thompson.

You can learn more about the program and how to apply on our website.