At least a dozen businesses plan to connect to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s new water and sewer infrastructure that's nearing completion along the U.S. 421 industrial corridor, utility officials said this week.
New Hanover County and CFPUA partnered to extend water and sewer lines down U.S. 421 as part of a major economic development effort to provide the infrastructure to the area spanning from just north of the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Pender County line, said Cammie Bellamy, assistant public information officer for CFPUA.
CFPUA did not provide a list of all the businesses that are in the planning process or have signed on to connect.
But at least two companies in the corridor have said this week they have plans to make use of the new system.
Officials with at the Wilmington plant of Southern States Chemical, a manufacturer and supplier of sulfuric acid for industrial use, said the company is connecting to the system for its process.
“We have already run our piece of the line down to [U.S.] 421 and we are just waiting for them [CFPUA] to do their hydro testing and certify the line before we can connect to it. I think for us it just gives us a second source -- more as a constant flow of water for our process. It's more of a stability thing for us,” Steve Suek, plant manager with Southern States Chemical, said Wednesday.
And at Fortron Industries' Wilmington plant, plans are to "receive potable water from CFPUA when the new line is complete and in service. This is water coming into the plant," Travis Jacobsen, director of global corporate communications for Fortron and Celanese Crop., said in an email Wednesday.
Fortron Industries is a joint venture between Celanese and Kureha Chemicals Industry Co. of Japan. The Wilmington plant manufactures Fortron polyphenylene sulfide, a type of thermoplastic polymer used in automotive, consumer goods, industrial, medical and aerospace applications.
“Since the Fortron plant runs its own waste treatment plant, we do not need to use the CFPUA sewer service," Jacobsen said.
The $12.8 million water and sewer line construction project was completed this month and the contractor, T.A. Loving Co., is in the process of demobilizing equipment, Bellamy said. New Hanover County chipped in about $1.6 million.
Starting in March 2018, the construction project came in on schedule and on budget despite two hurricanes, Florence in September 2018 and Dorian this September.
Pressure testing, chlorination and engineer approvals are still left to take place, Bellamy said. Once those approvals are complete, water, sewer and fire hydrant access are expected to be active, Bellamy said, adding that will likely take place in the first or second week of December.
Utility documents state that the corridor is considered one of the last areas in New Hanover County suitable for industrial development, with nearly 1,000 acres of developable land in the area.
The project helps fulfill one of several area needs identified in the county-commissioned report, “Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment,” released in 2014. The infrastructure was identified to help existing businesses and attract other companies to the area.
Construction included more than 36,000 feet of sewer lines and nearly 35,000 feet of water lines. There were also more than 1,500 feet of pipe installed under the Cape Fear River as part of the project. In addition, the project brought 31 fire hydrants to the corridor.
“This project provides critical water, sewer and fire protection services to nearly 1,000 developable acres in northwest New Hanover County. Extending these utilities along the U.S. 421 corridor will also allow companies that previously relied on well and septic systems to connect to CFPUA services,” Jim Flechtner, CFPUA executive director, said in an email. “We’re excited to see this important project come online and give more businesses in our community access to the services they need to grow.”
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