Strategic Directions for Wastewater Management in Union County

July 8, 2024

Strategic Directions for Wastewater Management

In response to the challenges highlighted in our previous discussion, Union County is pursuing strategic adjustments and planning for future improvements. This piece focuses on the solutions and proactive steps being taken to enhance our wastewater infrastructure.

Assistance From the State

We were fortunate to have received significant assistance from the State last year. Union County was allocated $26 million for wastewater in the 2023 state budget.  Additionally, legislation was passed that reformed the allocation of wastewater capacity for development projects. Previously, regulations resulted in impractical over-allocation, where the projected capacity on paper far exceeded actual usage. This adjustment ensures a more realistic and efficient distribution of wastewater resources, aligning allocated capacity with real-world needs.

Strategic Adjustments and Future Planning

Union County has reduced its sewer service areas to better align with the current and projected capacities of its facilities. This includes concentrating services in areas where infrastructure can support growth and scaling back in regions where capacity is strained.

This chart shows the reduction in the County’s approved sewer service areas from 2016 to 2022. These changes were approved by the Board of County Commissioners in April 2022.


Union County map showing wastewater service area change from 2016 to 2022Source: Union County Board of Commissioners Meeting: Special Meeting December 14, 2023.


Expansion of 12 Mile Creek Facility

The expansion of the 12 Mile Creek facility is a proactive step toward addressing capacity needs. Targeted to increase its treatment capacity to 9 million gallons per day by 2026, this $48.5 million upgrade is necessary for keeping pace with regional growth.

Capital Improvement Plan Initiatives

The Union County Board of Commissioners recently voted to approve some additional items in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), including the expansion of the 12 Mile Creek facility and the replacement and upsizing of over 14,000 linear feet of the Crooked Creek Basin trunk sewer. In addition, the Board of Commissioners approved an increase in rates to help fund these new additions. These capital improvements mark a positive step towards an improved approach that includes both maintaining existing infrastructure and making strategic expansions to enhance capacity.

Further Investments Needed

However, while these efforts are commendable and necessary, there remains a substantial need for additional investments in wastewater infrastructure, such as an additional treatment plant in the Yadkin Water Basin. As Union County continues to grow, further enhancements will be required to support this development and ensure that our infrastructure can meet future demands effectively.

Supporting Business and Community Growth: Looking Ahead

YOUR Union County Chamber has been a strong advocate for increased infrastructure investment and pro-business policies, encouraging many of the priorities outlined in the county’s CIP. Our efforts will continue to highlight the critical needs of our wastewater system and help pave the way for additional improvements.

For our business community, a robust and reliable wastewater infrastructure is vital for supporting existing operations and attracting new ventures, as well as fostering a business-friendly environment. To ensure continued economic opportunities and community well-being, it’s essential to maintain current systems while strategically expanding capacity to meet future needs. This balanced approach, coupled with ongoing community engagement and strategic planning, will be critical for navigating the challenges of wastewater management and ensuring sustainable growth and development.

Editor’s note: This blog is part of an occasional series published by the Chamber to provide information to our members and promote discussion on public policy issues affecting businesses in Union County.  You can find past installments here. Future blogs will focus on infrastructure issues such as broadband, roads, energy and water, workforce issues such as childcare and worker skills and other policy issues such as tax and regulatory policy.

Last modified: July 8, 2024

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