News for our Neighbors
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department would like to engage our neighbors surrounding our facilities for continual dialogue on issues of mutual interest. In the near future, we will schedule some time to meet with our customers to establish an avenue to share information. We want to keep you posted on the happenings in and around our plants and want to hear your thoughts and concerns, as well. Meeting dates and locations are forthcoming. If you would like to be invited to any of these meetings or receive additional correspondence, please submit your name and contact information to Maeneen Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test results are available here.
Mallard Creek Incident At-a-Glance
· An unusual substance began flowing into Mallard Creek Treatment Plant on February 6, 2014.
· This substance was later determined to contain contaminated materials including PCBs and trichlorobenzene.
· It was determined that the toxic material was illegally dumped into the sewer system via a grease trap containment location behind a grocery store on the 6400 block of W. Sugar Creek Road.
· The contaminated material was mostly contained in a holding tank at the Mallard Creek plant.
· A portion of the material leaked from a foundation drain on the plant site into Mallard Creek on February 7, 2014 into Mallard Creek.
· An estimated 1,575 gallons of water leaked from a foundation drain associated with a storage basin on the plant site where a large volume of contaminated waste is being held the weekend of February 15th. The leak went into a storm water detention area that also contained water from snow melt. Some of the water from the detention area flowed into Mallard Creek.
· Testing of the plant and creek continue in order to analyze water quality.
· As a precaution, the ‘no contact advisory’ will remain in effect from the Mallard Creek wastewater plant site near the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus border (along Mallard Creek downstream into Cabarrus, Union & Anson counties) until the wastewater plant is fully recovered and all hazardous materials have been removed from the plant site.
Mallard Creek Frequently Asked Questions
Is my drinking water safe?
The city drinking water supply was not affected by either incident at the two wastewater treatment plants. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) and other City & County officials continue to reiterate that drinking water is safe to drink, bathe and cook with.
What are PCBs?
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are chemicals that were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. They were banned from production by Congress in 1979 because of evidence that they can build up in the environment and potentially cause adverse health and environmental effects.
How did they get in our wastewater system?
PCBs were illegally introduced into the wastewater collection system via a grease trap at a local establishment from an unknown source and made their way to the Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment plant.
How are wastewater treatment plants permitted?
CMUD wastewater treatment plants are permitted and regulated by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources based upon guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency.
How often does the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department conduct PCB tests?
PCB testing varies based on different permits. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) frequently tests for PCBs for permitted industrial users regulated by CMUD. Once a year biosolids at each wastewater plant are also tested. The wastewater permit for Mallard Creek does not require PCB testing. On the drinking water side, CMUD is required to test every three years, but conducts quarterly tests for PCBs.
How does wastewater treatment work?
Wastewater is generated when CMUD customers wash clothes, take showers, run faucets and flush toilets. This water travels through a pipe network and into one of the five plants in Mecklenburg County. Each of CMUD’s wastewater treatment plants applies primary, secondary and advanced treatment to the waste stream. Large solid particles and inorganic materials are removed by screening and settling. The wastewater is treated biologically to remove dissolved pollutants. Disinfection reduces bacterial and pathogenic materials. Finally, the waste stream passes through granular filters to remove very small particles that may not have been removed through the settling process. The treated water is released to the stream.
What action is CMUD taking?
The Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant continues treating wastewater with a high degree of effectiveness, but equipment decontamination and disposal challenges will take time simply because of the PCB and TCB presence. Operators are working to safely operate the plant while minimizing any additional contamination. State and local water quality officials are assisting with the situation and we also are notifying downstream authorities to share this advisory with folks along Rocky River in Cabarrus, Union and Anson counties.
Are there any impacts on the environment or public?
Testing indicates that there is no adverse impact on our customers or downstream users. Water quality sampling and monitoring continues, but for now the public is advised to avoid human or animal contact with Mallard Creek and the Rocky River in Cabarrus County until more testing is completed and verified results are available.
What can the public do to help?
A special hotline has been established at 704-619-4904. Citizens are asked to contact authorities immediately with any information that could lead to the apprehension of the person(s) responsible for the illegal dumping.