Tag Archives: drinking water

Something To Be Grateful For

We’re grateful for our Charlotte Water employees who work 24/7/365 so that the rest of us can enjoy the holiday.

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal and you are pondering a unique thing to be thankful for, you can be grateful for running water and safely managed sanitation. According to the WHO and UNICEF’s Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Report, only 74% of the world’s population has safe drinking water. That means more than two billion people are without consistent access to clean drinking water.   

Additionally, only 54% of the world’s population has access to safely regulated sanitation services. We are incredibly fortunate to have safe, high-quality water and well-maintained wastewater systems.

Charlotte Water is one of the largest water and sanitation service utilities in the Southeast with over 1,050 employees to support the more than one million residents.  To keep over 9,000 miles of water and wastewater pipes, three water treatment plants, seven wastewater treatment plants, and several water storage, water towers, and facilities all maintained and running 24/7/365, many Charlotte Water employees must work on and through holidays or stay on-call in case of emergencies.   

Leaks and backups happen on holidays, too!

Crystal Josey works as a dispatcher for Charlotte Water. She shares her experience working over holidays:

“My job during the holiday is no different than it is during normal working hours. Water leaks still happen and sewer backups still occur. These incidents happen any time of any day. My job is to take the correct information from the reporting person and send the correct crew to investigate and/or make necessary repairs. A crew must be paged in from home, get everyone together, and get to the truck and the work site.”  

Barbara Armstrong is a Sr. Water Service Technician. She is first on-site for leaks and breaks. She describes her role:

“Water service leaks are unpredictable, and they could happen at any given time including during the holidays. I can repair some water service leaks in an average timeframe of approximately, 10-30 minutes. However emergency main breaks or emergency water service leaks can typically take 2 to 4 hours to complete, and they are completed by a Field Operations Construction Crew. For the most part, we don’t want to interrupt the customers’ holiday, and we only make emergency repairs on the holidays.”  

Don’t wash grease down the pipes

When families making meals wash grease down the sink, the risk of pipes backing up or clogging increases. As the weather gets colder, the grease hardens into solid masses that cause problems.

“Sewer complaints are always handled as an emergency and we seem to receive more sewer calls over the holidays for various reasons. A lot of cooking and grease/food down the drain is not a good thing,” Josey comments.  

Keep this in mind as you prepare your holiday meals! When grease hardens in pipes, it can cause messy, smelly back-ups. These back-ups can cause sewer overflows or even come back into your house. So, wipe your pans out with paper towels, throw them away, and our pipes will continue to flow free.

Say “Hi!” if you see our trucks

Charlotteans wouldn’t be able to appreciate the holiday without dedicated Charlotte Water staff serving the community. Take a moment to thank those who are working diligently to manage these systems and those who are ready to jump in if there is an emergency while you’re celebrating. If you see Charlotte Water trucks in your neighborhood, wave and say hi! Armstrong shares:

Working on the holiday is an added bonus for me because I enjoy serving the community, and it makes me feel proud when customers see me driving a Charlotte Water vehicle throughout their neighborhoods. Customers are very happy to see me arrive at their residence on a holiday. Most of them can’t believe that I am working on a holiday, and then they are very thankful for my service. I take pride in what I do, and I’m always there to help our customers. I try to put their worries at ease and let them know that Charlotte Water will take care of any issue that they may have as long as it’s not on the private side.”  

* Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020: five years into the SDGs. Geneva: World Health
Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2021.

The Value of Water

Charlotte Water participated in the US Water Alliance’s national awareness campaign called Imagine a Day Without Water by producing a series of short videos that highlight the value of water in our region and the collaboration needed to plan for things like droughts, emergencies and even the extensive growth happening in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Our region has unique shared water resources, especially the vast network of lakes that are used for drinking water, energy and recreation.

We are grateful for the hard work of so many regional stakeholders that protect this precious resource. Visit our YouTube playlist, The Value of Water, to watch the full series, with the introductory video below.

Charlotte Water Highlights Our History

Charlotte Water Adds Uplights to Our Historical Vest Water Tower in Collaboration with McCrorey Neighborhood

Considered a hallmark of water facilities of the 20th century and lauded for ingenuity in function and design, the Vest Water Station symbolizes over 100 years of water and urban development history in Charlotte. In 1990, Vest Water Station received designation as American Water Works Association Landmark and is also designated by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission as a Historic Landmark.  

Historic Drought Threatened Charlotte

In 1911, Charlotte’s main water sources were private wells and local creeks. When a devastating drought dried up the creeks, Charlotte was forced to pay neighboring cities to haul water to the city. The drought was so significant that the city’s police were confiscating garden hoses from people’s yards. Newspapers as far north as New York City warned people to stay away from Charlotte and neighboring cities and placed ads in Charlotte newspapers talking about their clean, fresh water. While the drought eventually ended, it brought to light an area of concern for planners if Charlotte was to continue to develop into a larger city.  

As a result, city officials rapidly pursued pumping water from the Catawba River and an extensive, state-of-the-art water treatment and storage facility at Vest Water Station. Around this time, Charlotte was the most populous city in North Carolina (around 50,000 people) and growing. If Charlotte didn’t have a secure water source, the city would not last not grow. This facility was the start of an extensive and innovative water system that continues to win awards today. 

An Innovative Water Treatment Facility

The main facility held laboratories, coagulation basins, filters, a capacity of 8.3 million gallons a day, and an elevated storage tank of 1 million gallons. By the late 1930s, capacity was reached, and expansions were completed after 1939. This expansion enabled the water treatment facility to meet the needs of Charlotte’s population of over 130,000. 

Without this forethought into water supply and distribution, Charlotte would not have experienced the same degree of population and industrial growth throughout the early 20th century. A commitment to clean, drinkable water and state-of-the-art water infrastructure allowed Charlotte to boom throughout the following decades. The fire department worked closely with Charlotte Water to ensure the water infrastructure supported efficient firefighting. This led to a decrease in fire-related losses in Charlotte. 

Due to its innovative design, the Vest Water Treatment Plant runs efficiently and is a major water source in the area. In evaluating locations for the new water plant, the Beatties Ford Road corridor location was chosen for several reasons. The land was at a higher elevation and close to existing water mains. It also was at a prime location to collect water from existing water sources. It was also, at the time, undeveloped. Rev. H.L. McCrorey owned the land and had planned to use it for future African-American-owned development. After a legal process, the City of Charlotte acquired the land from McCrorey Heights.  

The McCrorey Heights Influence

While the history has been complex, the McCrorey Heights neighborhood has since been designated a historic district to protect it from other projects in the future. This allows the neighborhood to have more control over what happens within McCrorey Heights and helps protect against gentrification and other changes that threaten the integrity of its neighborhood. 

Due to the work of McCrorey Heights, their neighborhood has stayed well-preserved and intact. It looks remarkably like how it was in the 1950s when it became fully developed. Many civil rights leaders lived in the McCrorey Heights neighborhood and some of their descendants and family live there today. This neighborhood was and still is an influential hub of Black culture and leadership. 

Vest Water Tower Lighting Ceremony

It is in collaboration with the McCrorey Heights neighborhood that Charlotte Water added lights to the Vest Station water tower earlier this month. With the community’s input, more than 70 LED lights were strategically installed and positioned across the tank walls and underbody to illuminate the tower for decades. Other improvements to the area will include an electric vehicle charging area and a bench seating and placemaking location. 

Charlotte Water recognizes both the historic nature of the innovative Vest Station water tower and what it meant to the growth and development of Charlotte and this historic neighborhood that has been influential in Charlotte becoming what it is today. 

In recognition of our past, we better understand the work that needs to be done in the future. It is only through collaboration that Charlotte can progress. We are grateful for the leadership of the McCrorey Heights neighborhood and their participation in this project. 

Charlotte Water Celebrates National Drinking Water Week 2022

From May 1-7, 2022, Charlotte Water joined water utilities and professional organizations across the country in celebrating National Drinking Water Week. This annual awareness event is a wonderful opportunity for our entire community to recognize the vital role of water in our daily lives.

Keep an eye around Charlotte’s many Little Free Libraries (https://littlefreelibrary.org/) for copies of the book Why Water’s Worth It that our staff donated around town!

Last week, Charlotte Water also connected with youth across Mecklenburg County by conducting read along events at schools and community partners and donating copies of the book to their permanent libraries.

The 2022 Water Week theme: “There When You Need It,” underscores different aspects of the reliability of our drinking water. In just one day, think about all the ways you use clean drinking water in your daily routine. From basic hygiene like brushing our teeth, cooking water, and hydrating our bodies and our pets. It’s also a great reminder that there are still many places that do not have access to clean and reliable water resources.

To participate in water awareness activities for Water Week (or any time of the year!), you and your family can purchase a copy of the book online, watch a read along on YouTube, or do a free activity book provided by the American Waterworks Association.

This week and every week is a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of clean drinking water and the essential role we have as a community to protect and share this vital resource. Visit charlottewater.org to learn more about how you can celebrate drinking water in your life!