The Jordan Lake water supply is key to meeting the Town of Cary’s commitment to ensure reliable, high-quality water services are available to meet the needs of our citizens and support continued growth. In January, Cary achieved greater water supply stability for its citizens by ending a legal challenge to our interbasin transfer (IBT) certificate filed by several downstream communities in the Cape Fear River basin. On January 18, the Towns of Cary and Apex, along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, reached a settlement agreement with Fayetteville and other communities who sued the state contesting the its 2015 action issuing an IBT Certificate to Cary/Apex. The Town worked closely in this negotiation with Apex, our partner on joint water supply facilities since 1988. The settlement negotiations also provided an opportunity to forge a stronger working relationship with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.
Cary and Apex each exist in two river watersheds, the Neuse (east) and Cape Fear (west), separated roughly along NC Highway 55. The Jordan Lake water supply is located in the Cape Fear River basin, and water is returned from wastewater treatment facilities in both basins. The state regulates transfers of water across watershed boundaries. As part of the Town’s IBT certificate, the Town constructed the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility to return a portion of our water use back to the Cape Fear River basin. With the settlement, the IBT certificate is modified to include a provision for Cary and Apex to submit an annual report on their water demand in the Neuse River Basin, and the amount of treated discharges returned to the Cape Fear River basin each year. Actual demand and actual return will be compared to a calculated required return formula, which increases the expected discharge return as water demand increases in the Neuse River basin portion of Cary and Apex. Town staff have evaluated projections of growth in the western portions of Cary and Apex, as well as the remaining development/ redevelopment in the Neuse River portions of the Towns and have confidence the return requirement will be met.
Good Hope Water Tank
The Carpenter Elevated Water Storage Tank along NC 55 will soon have a new neighbor. About a mile to the north at the intersection of NC 55 and Good Hope Church Road, we are constructing the Good Hope Tank. While these neighboring tanks will both serve the growing western pressure zone and each have a two million gallon capacity, they will not share a similar appearance. Like the Kilmayne Tank under construction near the Kildaire Farm Road and Maynard Road intersection, the Good Hope Tank is a composite-style tank with a reinforced concrete column and a steel tank on top.
Currently standing at about 48 ft. tall, the Good Hope Tank is well on its way to an ultimate height of 183 ft. once the steel tank is lifted into place this fall. At that height, the Good Hope Tank will become our second tallest elevated storage tank behind the Ridgeview Tank, which stands approximately 187 ft. tall and is located along Cary Parkway. While the tank may be the most visible element of the project, it’s not the only thing happening at the site that will make our water system more resilient. Once the tank crews have moved out, a pump station will be constructed that will allow the water stored in the tank to serve the central as well as the western pressure zone. This operational flexibility will come to fruition just in time for the summer 2019 high-demand season.
Aquastar Success Story
In January, a 12-inch water main break on Pleasant Grove Church Road and Airgate Drive near the RDU Airport had the potential to cause a water outage for approximately 55 utility connections, including a school and numerous businesses. Town staff quickly recognized that nearby Raleigh pipelines could be connected to maintain water service with a fire hydrant-to-hydrant connection between the Raleigh and Cary water systems but needed to know if that connection would provide adequate supply for the affected properties. Using GIS and Aquastar data, staff created a boundary simulation of the estimated water use required for the service area by analyzing average water usage for the past week for water users within the affected area. Staff was able to quickly establish that the hydrant connection would be adequate and thanks to a temporary connection to Raleigh’s water system, a much smaller area was impacted during the water line repair. This analysis allowed the Town to avoid school and multiple business closures.
Plumtree Tank Painting
The Plumtree Water Tank, located near Millpond Village, has been painted and returned to service. The one million gallon tank, which is 17 years old, serves the southern pressure zone. This is the first time it has been repainted. The project cost $500,000 and the new coating is expected to last up to 20 years.
Jordan Lake Update
After several months of below normal lake elevations, Jordan Lake has been filled to its normal pool elevation of 216 feet and is ready for the summer demand season.
Reclaimed Water Holiday
The reclaimed water distribution system serves 830 metered services in three distinct service areas with approximately 66 miles of pipelines. The 2018 Reclaimed Water Holiday, which is the annual off-season reclaimed water system shut down for maintenance, began on February 12. All planned operations and maintenance projects were completed, and the system was fully restored and operational by February 22.
Wastewater Treatment Performance
After operating successfully for the first three years and achieving high level nutrient removal standards and excellent wastewater treatment performance, the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility has been named an Exceptional Performing Facility.
The North Cary and South Cary Water Reclamation Facilities continue to be Exceptional Performing Facilities since their last permit renewal in 2014. These facilities are among the best performing facilities in the Neuse River Basin. A key indicator of performance, nitrogen removal protects the environment by reducing nutrients in receiving waters and by recovering the nitrogen for beneficial reuse in the form of biosolids. Both facilities continue to discharge nitrogen concentrations below the Lower Neuse Basin Association’s (LNBA) average of 2.79 parts per million (ppm). In 2016, North Cary WRF had an average nitrogen discharge of 2.16 ppm and South Cary WRF had an average discharge concentration of 2.32 ppm. Both facilities continue to remove nitrogen at exceptional performance levels.
January Snow Storms
Two snow storms hit Cary in January. Each storm brought different challenges: On January 3, we saw three inches of snow and bitter temperatures, while on January 17, Mother Nature dumped seven inches of snow on Cary. Cary’s A-Team worked non-stop, plowing every street within 24 hours. Public Works’ snow response cost $185,000 and $340,000 for the January 3 and January 17 incidents, respectively.
China's National Sword
The Town of Cary provides garbage, yard waste and recycling collection for approximately 51,000 homes every week. Annually, we deliver roughly 11,000 tons of comingled recycling from our curbside program to Sonoco Recycling in Raleigh. Sonoco then sorts through the materials, separating items into saleable commodities. Thirty percent of the country’s recyclable material is shipped to China.
In July 2017, China notified the World Trade Organization of its intention to implement a policy known as National Sword beginning in January 2018. This policy created a more stringent regulation (0.3 percent or less contamination) for the quality of recyclables (mainly plastics and paper) entering China. This issue affects recyclers around the world. Decreased demand from China is creating a higher global supply and putting downward pressure on commodity prices.
The Town’s robust and well-loved recycling program will cost more to maintain. Our current contamination rate is approximately 12 percent (national average is ~15 percent), well above the 0.3 percent China accepts. Tipping fees are increasing at the Material Recover Facilities (MRF). Where once we received revenues for our recycled materials, we are now paying to dispose of them, and we expect to pay even higher tipping fees in the foreseeable future. Our FY 2019 estimated average rate to dispose of recycling is $25 per ton, compared to $18 per ton for garbage.
Leaf Collection - 2017/2018 Season Ends
Fire Station No. 9 Update
Fire Station 9 is the final piece in the multi-step plan to ensure the Fire Department meets current and future demands associated with response-time goals in serving both the downtown area and the Crossroads/US 1 corridor area. In 2012, the citizens approved a Community Investment Bonds referendum which funded the construction of new Fire Station 2, located in the downtown area at 601 E. Chatham Street to better serve the downtown area. Station 2 was opened in December 2015. The former Station 2 was renamed Fire Station 9 with plans to relocate Station 9 to 1427 Walnut Street to better serve the Crossroads/US 1 corridor area.
Salesforce Work Order Update
Public Works began implementing the Salesforce work order system in December 2017. We trained Facilities, Solid Waste, Customer Service Divisions and 80% of Operations Division in the third quarter. This system allows us to enhance our customer service and provide real-time scheduling and updates to our staff. We have deployed 125 of approximately 150 iPads to field staff, allowing them to electronically document their work in the field and replacing over 1,550 paper work orders generated and completed every week.
Emergency Communications Back-Up Center Training
The Emergency Communications Center completed 911 back-up center training on March 8. Our mobile back-up center currently resides at Cary Fire Station 6 and can be deployed when it is necessary to evacuate the primary center or when the main 911 phone lines into the facility fail. Circumstances such as a fire, natural disaster or structural damage to our location within the Police Department can force the staff to temporarily relocate until repairs are made or the area is safe to return. Cut or damaged 911 phone lines into the main site is very unlikely, however the center must be prepared if such an event were to happen. The back-up center provides the location for staff to relocate and continue to process calls for service like we would at the main center. Alternate 911 phone lines are used if our main 911 lines were cut or damaged, while Mobile Command Post 911 Phone Systems, Portable Radio Systems and Mobile Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems are used to answer and dispatch calls for service just as we do in the main 911 Center.
Our Emergency Communications Center staff train on our backup equipment throughout the year; however, this particular training was built around a reality-based scenario which involved a mock evacuation of our main site on Town Hall Campus due to a gas leak in the building. This evacuation scenario allowed the Communications Center Staff to test how long it would take to set up a backup center from ground zero.
While training in the backup center, Emergency Communications Center staff had the opportunity to be exposed and adapt to the challenges of working in smaller spaces and with mobile equipment versus the fixed consoles and equipment they primarily use in our main center. Although this could be challenging for most, our emergency telecommunicators were able to quickly adapt to ensure a seamless transition to the back-up center and continuous service without interruptions, should that need arise. We continue to train throughout the year on all of our equipment so that we deliver the same great service to our citizens whether we are in our main facility or a backup location.
Raw Water Transmission Line
If you have traveled along US 64 from Chatham County toward Cary recently, you may have seen heavy construction activity on the south side of the highway. Contractors for the Town are hard at work installing approximately six miles of steel pipe to move water from the intake pump station at Jordan Lake to the Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility, where it will be treated to become high quality drinking water for our citizens.
This pipeline is our third raw water transmission main. It will allow us to convey the amount of water necessary to meet our build-out needs. Additionally, it eliminates some points of vulnerability, resulting in a more resilient system. The line is designed to move the water efficiently, saving the Town energy costs.
Construction is underway in multiple areas along the route. Tunnel boring crews have completed a bore underneath US 64 to get the pipe from the pump station to the south side of the highway. The crews are finishing up a second bore under Beaver Creek Road and making progress on a third, which will cross New Hill Road while protecting an historic home. Pipeline construction crews have installed approximately 4,000 feet of welded steel pipe, including a difficult section of 54-inch diameter pipe along the causeway adjacent to a portion of the lake. This section has been tested and brought into service, achieving an important project milestone. Construction is proceeding on schedule, and, when completed, the pipeline will be an important part of how we meet our water needs now and into the future.
What Works Cities
The What Works Cities experts at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), the Sunlight Foundation (Sunlight), and Results for America (RFA) worked with the Cary team during the first two quarters of FY 2018 to improve internal data management practices as well as develop an open data policy draft as a catalyst for change, which will provide better delivery of Town-held information in a way that promotes transparency and better governance.
During the engagement, What Works Cities and the Town of Cary worked together to accomplish the following:
Open Data Policy
- Developed open data policy objectives
- Worked closely with appropriate Town officials to develop initial drafts of desired policy instrument
- Involved and considered other arms of Town government when developing the policy to ensure the future success of the policy as other departments implement it
Strengthen Data Management
- Surveyed staff in the focus area to gain insights about the current state of internal practices related to data management and internal access
- Identified opportunities for training where there are gaps in organization’s capacity to take on governance
- Explored options for a data governance group that fits within Cary’s organizational culture, ending with a concept of small-scale organic data users group
With this work, the Town of Cary team has built a critical foundation for open data. Staff will continue to focus on open data work in preparation for a presentation to Town Council.
Online Utility Account Application
The Town now offers citizens an online opportunity to request a new account for water, sewer, and/or solid waste service 24/7. The online request for service also provides an opportunity for new residents to avoid a deposit requirement. Prior to the change, all new account applicants were required to pay a deposit to start service. Now, if citizens choose to provide a social security number and have satisfactory credit, they are no longer required to pay a deposit. The process is managed through an electronic signature process operated by DocuSign, which provides thorough transparency about the new account legal details.
Pre-Incident Planning and Risk Assessments
The Fire Department is in the midst of annual Pre-Incident Planning and Risk Assessment updates for all commercial, Town-owned, and County-owned properties within Cary. Pre-Incident Planning documents for over 5,700 properties include a wealth of information that help the Fire Department prepare for and mitigate emergencies. Records include information such as property use, layout, size, content (including any hazardous materials), contact information, building construction type, utilities, special hazards associated with the occupancy, fire protection systems, nearest fire hydrants, as well as how much water the fire department could expect to need should a fire occur. A risk assessment value is calculated annually by applying a mathematical formula to the following factors: Occupancy Type, Hazard Classification, Building Construction Type, Life Safety, Economic Impact, Building Content, and Incident Probability. The resulting numeric value for each property will range between 10 and 60 and provides a quick reference regarding the property’s relative risk. The annual process also provides an important opportunity for the Fire Department to strengthen relationships with the community.