Franklin considering sending sewage to Courtland

Published 10:12 am Friday, February 1, 2013



FRANKLIN—The City of Franklin is exploring the possibility of sending its sewage to the treatment plant in Courtland.

Before doing so, City Council and Southampton County supervisors agreed to apply for a $40,000 grant to study the idea.

“We can’t move forward without having some expertise to evaluate the costs on something of this scale,” said Franklin City Manager Randy Martin

Franklin’s 50-year-old plant is operating at 70 percent capacity. The state would not require Franklin to do anything until its plant is at 95 percent capacity.

“We don’t want to wait and get at (the 95 percent) point to start planning,” Martin said. “Plus if we upgraded or replaced our plant, we are talking tens of millions of dollars.”

Martin said the city has no space to build a new plant. Construction could take three to five years, and the current plant’s operation would have to continue.

Southampton County spent more than $30 million to build its Courtland plant in 2010 and favors partnering with Franklin.

“We have a state-of-the-art system, yet we use 20 percent,” said Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter. “We built it with assumptions that didn’t pan out.”

Porter noted that the county spends $1.5 million annually to operate the system and may save money by allowing Franklin to use its plant.

“This would be a cost-effective solution for them and us,” Porter said.

“Franklin’s present sewer system is in a flood zone and expansion is not a good option,” added Berlin-Ivor District Supervisor Ronnie West. “We have a system that’s prepared. This is an opportunity and a willing partner. This is an opportunity like we have never seen before in this region.”

Councilman Benny Burgess also applauds steps taken by both governing bodies.

“I am glad to see us progress and working together to achieve something that will help us all in the long run cut costs,” Burgess said.

The concept falls in line with an agreement the county and city made in November to explore sharing services.

“This is one of the most promising opportunities that I’ve seen our shared services committee identify,” Porter said.