MOYOCK, N.C. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach-based Sandler Utilities and the state of North Carolina have filed newly agreed-upon terms in Currituck County court to find a solution to the chronically broken sewer system in the Eagle Creek neighborhood of Moyock, North Carolina.
We’ve covered the sewer problems in the neighborhood since 2020 when the residents had raw sewage spilling into their homes and yards. The issues left a majority of residents without access to water in their homes for more than 11 days.
“What we’ve been dealing with is a neighborhood with third world problems, honestly, and a government at every level that refuses to listen to us,” said Eagle Creek Resident Stu Schwartz.
Here’s what’s required of Sandler Utilities according to the newly agreed-upon terms filed in Currituck County on Dec. 28, 2021.
- Appoint an independent specialist, approved by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), to oversee operation of the collection system for a minimum of 30 days;
- Provide a new independent engineering evaluation by an independent engineering firm, approved by DEQ, with expertise in vacuum system operation;
- Revise its interim service and restoration plan and provide a new system upgrade plan to address recommendations of the independent engineering evaluation;
- Provide timely and accurate responses to all resident complaints of equipment failures, system failures, or discharges of wastewater.
The state of North Carolina got involved in March 2021 when the Department of Environmental Quality sought a court order in Currituck County Superior Court to require Sandler Utilities to properly maintain the system and prevent sanitary overflows.
In July 2021, the court entered what’s called a consent judgment that required Sandler Utilities to fully comply with the terms of its permit and the state’s water quality laws. The problems persisted.
In November 2021, the state filed a motion to hold Sandler in contempt of court for not complying with the terms of the July consent judgment. If found in contempt, Sandler Utilities could face more fines and possibly even jail time.
At a Dec. 6 hearing, however, the judge ordered Sandler and DEQ to revise the previous agreed-upon consent judgment. That revised judgment is what was filed in Currituck County on Dec. 28.
The Department of Justice says there are no more scheduled hearings on the subject at this time.
State Representative Bobby Hanig is monitoring the situation.
“I think the bulk of the repairs will be done in a timely manner. I think they’ll continue to have issues until they replace the entire system,” Hanig said.
A long-term solution may be on the way.
Mike Myers, president of Envirolink, the company that manages the system, says they’re in a plan to buy the sewer from Sandler and replace the current vacuum system with a much more reliable gravity system.
“Our perspective is even one customer having a problem is one customer too many,” said Myers.
Myers says a contract is already drawn up and signed, all they need now is the approval from state regulators for the sale to be finalized. The hearings are set for February.