Tag Archives: treatment plant

McAlpine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is Platinum…Again

Each year, NACWA recognizes the commitment, innovation and achievements of individuals and public agencies in the clean water community through their Award Programs. NACWA stands for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. Each year NACWA presents their Peak Performance Awards. The Peak Performance Awards recognizes NACWA member agency facilities for excellence in permit compliance. Award recipients are recognized at NACWA’s Utility Leadership Conference & Annual Meeting.

Charlotte Water’s largest wastewater treatment plant, McAlpine Creek received a Platinum Award for the 10th straight year. The Platinum Award recognizes the water agencies who demonstrated 100% compliance with permits over a consecutive five-year period.

As Charlotte Water’s largest wastewater management plant, McAlpine has a daily treatment capacity of 64 million gallons per day (MGD).  Charlotte Water has five wastewater treatment plants that treat an average of 88 Million gallons of wastewater per day, combined.

In addition to McAlpine Creek, McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant also received the NACWA Peak Performance Platinum Award. Mallard, Irwin and Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plants received the gold award. For a full list of awards given to Charlotte Water, visit our website.

Ever wondered how we treat your wastewater?


Waste water treatment travels from your home, place of business or school through 4,300 miles of wastewater pipes to our treatment plants. The wastewater is separated into liquids and solids. The liquids are cleaned and put back into our creeks and streams, the solids are converted to biosolids.  Biosolids are nutrient-rich byproducts of wastewater treatment.

Whether it’s at McAlpine or at our four other wastewater treatment plants, staff at Charlotte Water work around the clock to make sure your wastewater is treated safely and properly. We are platinum strong!

From the River to the Tap: Water Treatment

It’s hard to believe the clean, fresh water that comes from your tap actually started its journey as a drop of water in the Catawba River.

Hundreds of Charlotte Water employees are part of that journey, and during National Drinking Water Week, we celebrate and recognize the vital role water plays in our community. Every day this week, we’ll meet one of those employees helping deliver water from the river to your tap.

We’re starting with the first steps in the process, where we pull water from the lakes and treat it before it enters the distribution system.


“I enjoy taking a raw product – lake water – and taking it through the process to create a final product – potable water. I also like controlling the process to get water to people’s homes by monitoring the pressure and keeping it up.”

Water Treatment Plant Operator Tom McEver knows he has a big job. He’s been with Charlotte Water for 25 years, starting as an operator at the Vest Plant, then moving to the Lee S. Dukes Plant before it even opened.

“In 1996, my supervisor at Vest said, ‘Go learn that new plant, because you’ll have to train the operators,’ so I went to Dukes,” McEver said. “Construction on the plant finished that year, but delays with other contractors meant we didn’t have raw product – the lake water – until 1998.”

McEver has been at the Dukes plant ever since. “I got to know that plant real good even before it started,” he said with a laugh.

Chance and a change in the economy brought McEver to Charlotte Water. He worked for a wholesale distributor on Tryon Street for years. He planned to retire from that company, until automation and online sales started growing, cutting the need for distribution companies – and their employees.

“I had, in the past, worked for the Town of Davidson water and wastewater departments,” he said. “My supervisor there was working for Charlotte Water. When I found myself looking for a job, I called him and asked if they had any openings, and that’s how I found out about an operator position at the Vest plant.”

Since then, McEver has operated two of Charlotte Water’s treatment facilities. The Dukes plant is in Huntersville and treats 10 million gallons of water from Lake Norman every day.

“When I operate the plant, I’m responsible for the entire process,” McEver explained. “That means I manage the water coming in from the lake, the chemicals that are added to disinfect and adjust the pH of the water, and monitor the filters.”

There’s more to the job than sitting in front of computer monitors. “Every two hours, I run lab tests on the water, checking the levels of chlorine, pH and fluoride, as well as measuring the turbidity, or cloudiness, of the water,” he said. “I walk the entire plant regularly, checking the equipment as well as sounds and smells, to make sure everything is working correctly.”

Charlotte Water is tested and monitored through every phase of the process to ensure it’s safe and that the very last customer at the end of the pipe system has clean water. McEver knows it’s a big responsibility.

“This is a public health job, because we’re responsible for providing clean water. It’s also a public safety job, because we have to make sure there’s enough pressure to provide water for the fire department when fires break out,” he said. “I don’t always like to think about that responsibility, but it’s satisfying to know I have a big part in making sure the process happens.”

He may have 25 years’ experience with Charlotte Water, but he doesn’t have plans to retire. His favorite poem, To Earthward by Robert Frost, compares youth and maturity, and McEver seems to look at his time with Charlotte Water in the same way.

“My work is agreeable, and I’ve done the tasks so often over the years that they’re part of my routine. I’ve met a lot of good people, a lot of smart people, here over the years. Really good, competent people.”

To read the next step in the water process here

Lee Dukes Water Treatment Plant Turns 20

Twenty years ago North Mecklenburg County looked a lot different than it does today. Talk of toll roads and Whole Foods markets were not even on the radar. But Charlotte Water knew this region of the county was growing and with that came an increase in the need for water. At the time, all the water for the county was supplied by water from Mountain Island Lake, treated at Franklin and Vest and pumped up to residents in Northern Mecklenburg. With the addition of a new intake on Lake Norman at Blythe Landing and the treatment plant across the street, Charlotte Water could better serve the residents of north Mecklenburg with a closer water source.

Originally Lee Dukes, or North Mecklenburg Water Treatment Plant as it was once called, was built to be a community center in addition to a treatment plant. Unlike most treatment plants, the lobby area was designed to look aesthetically pleasing and shows off mosaics made by local children and artists and houses the extensive collection of woodcarvings made by Lee Dukes himself. Unfortunately due to increasing need for security after 9/11, community events in the facility had to be minimized. Though Blue Planet was not in the original plans, due to an EPA grant the environmental learning facility was built within Lee Dukes plant and served residents for ten years before being closed.


Example of Mosaic Artwork Found at Lee Dukes


The plant opening was delayed a year due to difficulties installing the 60” diameter concrete pipe under Highway 73, this pipe connected the pump station at the lake to the treatment plant.

Three plant operators that were part of the inaugural staff on that day in 1998 still work at Charlotte Water, with two of them still working at the same plant. The science behind water treatment hasn’t changed much in 20 years and except for some updated office technology, the plant hasn’t changed much either.


Lake norman at blythe 43 copy
Pump Station at Blythe Landing on Lake Norman

Currently, Lee Dukes treats about 18 million gallons a day but the land purchased by Charlotte Water in the mid 90’s has room for much more equipment that would increase the capacity of the plant significantly if needed. This treatment plant is in it for the long haul and will continue to play an integral role in the growth of Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson.


90 Years of Safeguarding Public Health

What do Rome, the Indus Valley civilizations and Charlotte have in common? They were all cities that thrived due to the installation of water and wastewater infrastructure. Without clean water to drink and sanitation systems, people fell prey to disease.

Before Irwin and Sugar Creek wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) were built, Charlotte residents dumped raw sewage directly into nearby creeks and streams. These practices were the root cause of outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, and polio. In 1924, Sugar Creek Wastewater treatment plant was built on Little Sugar Creek and began partial treatment of wastewater. In 1927, Sugar Creek WWTP was expanded and Irwin Creek WWTP was built, and both were the first modern-style plants in the state. They used the highly-effective activated sludge treatment process to remove nutrients and organic materials from the wastewater before it was put back into the creeks and streams.


aiwrin creek Water 1923 laboratory
Laboratory at Irwin Creek WWTP- 1920’s


This technology allowed for an increased quality of life for the residents of Charlotte, less polluted waterways and supported the consistent economic and population growth of the Charlotte region.

Many sectors of the economy are reliant upon water, and any disruption of water/wastewater services can cost businesses a significant amount of revenue. Since 1927, Sugar and Irwin WWTP’s have been treating wastewater 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and due to many plant expansions are now able to treat up to 20 and 15 million gallons, respectfully, of wastewater per day.