Tag Archives: water treatment

Why Does Wastewater Cost More On My Water Bill?

Treating wastewater is complex, using sophisticated biological systems, multiple filters, and modern disinfection methods.

So why does your sewer part of the monthly bill cost more than water usage?

The Short Answer:

It is easier and cheaper to treat lake water to make it drinkable than to treat the community’s wastewater (industrial, commercial, and residential) and make it clean enough to reintroduce into a creek or river.

Water leaving the plant must be free of harmful pollutants to protect fish, turtles, birds, and other creatures that depend on the creek.

Below is a step-by-step guide for turning lake water into potable or drinking water.

And here are the steps to turn your wastewater into creek-able water.

There are more steps to the wastewater treatment process than water treatment process.

Charlotte Water (CLTWater) only uses water meters to measure usage, so wastewater usage is calculated based on that water usage up to a limit or cap.

Energy and chemical costs are higher for wastewater treatment processes, hence the higher cost for wastewater treatment vs. water treatment on a water bill.

The cost to treat wastewater and meet federal regulations continues to increase. Our goal is to always meet and exceed regulations to ensure cleaner water goes into our creeks.

Stop right here if you’re satisfied! The Longer Answer gets a bit technical about how your billing works.

The Longer Answer:

CLTWater pays for water and wastewater services via usage and billing fees, not taxes (contrary to popular belief). CLTWater posted the official Revenue Manual that details all fees.

How can I help reduce my water / sewer bill and rate increases?
Toss all trash in the trashcan, not down a drain. Did you know that ‘flushable’ wipes clog pipes and require manually pulling them out of pumps? Wipes can cause expensive repairs and maintenance.

Additional resources:

Water Week Spotlight: Justin Sherrill, Water Treatment Plant Operator

As most residents are ending their day and heading off to bed, Justin Sherrill, a Water Treatment Plant Operator at the Franklin Water Treatment Plant, is just beginning his day. Justin works the third shift at the plant, which begins at 10:00pm and ends at 6:00am. He takes some time after the end of his shift to show us around the plant, and give us a glimpse into a typical “day in the life” of a Water Treatment Plant Operator.

On a typical day, Justin begins his shift by receiving information from the prior shift; operators from the preceding shift debrief him on anything he needs to be aware of going into his shift for the night. There are three operators working during each shift, and there must be at least two operators on site at all times.

After receiving his assignments for his shift, Justin will do a walkthrough, where he will walk around to check the grounds, inspecting the treatment plant and making sure everything appears to be in order. As shift supervisor he must make sure that everything is in compliance with the required guidelines for his shift – tanks need to be filled to certain levels, putting out enough water into the system, making sure the water quality is where it needs to be, etc.

A story that Justin shared with us occurred back in early March. There was a large water main break that occurred during the early morning hours, and the treatment plant operators, Justin included, were some of the first to realize and identify that there was a problem due to the amount of water they were losing at the plant – it was an unusually high amount for that time of the day.

The first shift typically deals with the highest demands, as residents are more active and getting ready for their day during this time. The night shift helps to prep the morning shift, and also handles the paperwork and reporting out of how many chemicals were used and how much water was pumped out. This information must also be reported on a monthly basis.

Justin’s favorite part about his job is training other staff members and being able to share his knowledge and what he has learned along the way. Justin takes pride in knowing how important his role is, and enjoys sharing that information with others. Here, he takes the time to walk us through the steps of the water treatment process at the plant.

He points to the first step, which is pumping in the raw water (untreated water) from the reservoir. Once it is pumped in, it flows to the next steps of coagulation and flocculation. During coagulation, liquid aluminum sulfate (alum) is added to the raw water. When alum is mixed with the water, it causes the small particles of dirt in the water to coagulate (aka, stick together). During flocculation, large paddles in the tanks stir the alum and water mixture which causes the particles to stick together, which then forms larger and heavier particles called floc.

Flocculation basin

From there, the water and floc particles flow to the sedimentation basins where the heavy floc particles then settle at the bottom of the basin.

Sedimentation basins

After that, the water flows through a filter, which removes any remaining particles in the water. After the water has been filtered, very small amounts of fluoride and chlorine are added to the water. The fluoride is added to help protect our teeth, and the chlorine is added to kill any germs or contaminants, and to help keep the water disinfected while it travels through miles and miles of pipes to reach customers.

Water filters

Next, Justin will grab some water samples from the lab, where they test each of the water filters every four hours. Samples from the Franklin Water Treatment Plant are also sent to our lab analysts at the Environmental services facility once a week for testing of taste, odor, and metals.

Justin testing the chlorine level of the water sample

Thank you to Justin for showing us around and sharing more information about your role with Charlotte Water! We greatly appreciate our Water Treatment Plan Operators who help to keep clean drinking water flowing to our customers.

Continue to follow along this week as we will share more “day in the life” stories of our staff members during National Drinking Water Week!





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