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Community takes sewage disposal into its own hands

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

One community is eastern North Carolina is taking action. After some residents in Candlewick Estates subdivision in Greenville started experiencing septic tank problems, they decided to become their own sanitary district. Pitt County Planning Director, James Rhodes, says it's a designation no other community in Pitt County has.

"In this case, it's very similar to establishing or incorporating a small town. The sanitary district has its own council, own board members. It can operate its own waste water disposal system and other systems. So, it's very similar to a small town in its operation," said Rhodes.

Chair of the district, Earl Wade, says the road to becoming a sanitary district started about seven years ago. In 2009, Wade says residents set up a tent outside a county commissioners meeting and voiced their concerns. After the proper paperwork was completed, the Candlewick Estates Sanitary District was established.

To make sure they were a good fit for a sewage system, some the residents contacted a lawyer, who conducted a study on the subdivision.

"There were four ladies that went to McDavid & Associates to discuss them coming out here to see if we were suited for a sewer system. They were instrumental in getting us to be a sanitary district. That's the only way we can get grant money, is to be a sanitary district," said Vice Chair, Rita Leggett.

"We had a study that McDavid & Associates gathered a lot of information, samples; and it turned out 100 times some pollutants. By, law it's not as bad as it sounds, but it's bad enough," said Wade.

The study findings had many of residents worried that over time it could become a health hazard, if they don't put in a community sewer system.

Wade says when they established the district more grants were available; but the economy has made grants hard to come by. He says they have contacted the United States Department of Agriculture to apply for a loan. If they receive the loan, Wade hopes the sewer system will completed in the next few years. Wade and Leggett say once the sewer system is complete the district can start working on other projects.

"If we're a success, I imagine a lot of community's would be talking to us; but, it's not easy. It's been a thought for seven years and we're not even close. But, Rita and I don't give up," said Wade.

Since its establishment, every four years the district votes on board members. That vote that will take place this November.

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