Long Time Coming: Seven Lakes Getting Sewer

Johnson Point in Seven Lakes. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot.


Staff Writer

The Moore County Board of Commissioners is moving forward with a plan to extend public sewer to Seven Lakes, the county’s largest population center still without sewer service.

The commissioners have hired LKC Engineering to design a line that would run west of Pinehurst along N.C. 211 all the way to the Seven Lakes business district.

Sewer would be installed concurrent with construction to four-lane that highway between N.C. 73 and Holly Grove School Road west of Seven Lakes.

Clearing has already begun for that roadwork, and the state Department of Transportation is expect to begin widening efforts later this fall. The work is expected to take about three years to finish.

When done, West End and Seven Lakes would have a critical piece of public infrastructure needed to support increased commercial development west of Pinehurst. Approximately 8,000 people live west of Pinehurst in the village of Foxfire, West End and Seven Lakes.

Much is still unknown about the project until engineers develop and offer up a design. Public Works Director Randy Gould said that some of the infrastructure is planned to pass through West End, which could be the location of a future pump station needed to forward sewage toward Pinehurst and, ultimately, on to Addor in southern Moore where the county’s wastewater treatment plant is.

Also unknown is the timing and whether any of Seven Lakes’ residential communities — Seven Lakes North and South, Seven Lakes West and McLendon Hills, specifically — would hook on to the sewer line.

The sewer project is being made possible through a $15 million grant incorporated into last year’s state budget. Commissioners earlier this year also committed American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds toward the project as well.

The state money “will cover the pump station, the force main and then the board has already previously allocated some ARP money for the 211 widening portion,” said Gould. “Those bids will be received later on this year. The part that is probably not going to be covered is the collection system itself.”

Gould went on to explain that collection sites still need to be determined, depending on how many customers are looking to receive a sewer hookup.

“When we get a lot of (planning) done, we’ll have a special meeting at Seven Lakes,” said Commissioners Board Chairman Nick Picerno, who lives in McLendon Hills. “We’ll invite Seven Lakes people to come and ask questions of the board.”

Commissioners have long had a desire to bring public sewer west because of the large number of individual septic systems that have been installed over the years as the Seven Lakes community has grown.

Western Moore County traditionally was some of the Sandhills’ famous farmland. Fields bursting with peach trees, strawberries, corn and other fruit and vegetable crops filled bushels that got shipped off on trucks and trains. Much of that land began transitioning slowly away from agriculture in the mid 1950s.

Originally developed 50 years ago as a series of weekend and retirement communities based around several lakes, Seven Lakes over the last few years has become more of an everyday suburb filled with families of commuters. The main attractions have been lower housing costs, no municipal taxes and privacy gates.

The county extended water service to Seven Lakes long ago but not the more costly sewer, so all those homes are served by individual septic systems.

“We have heard that there have been some problems with the septic tanks, but I do not have any numbers or any exact locations,” said Gould.

However, county Manager Wayne Vest noted that some businesses in the Seven Lakes business district have previously “had a challenge” with their septic systems.

“And that is the thing,” said Commissioner John Ritter, an attorney whose law office is in the Seven Lakes business district. “It’s not so much about failing septic tanks. It is just the fact of having to have a septic tank for a commercial business.

“It is hard to get a fast food restaurant or a store to come where they have to spend a lot of money on these septic systems.”

The sewer project would be included in future budgets along with the other sewer services operated by Moore County Public Utilities, including Pinehurst and Vass. The contract with LKC Engineering is for just over $1.5 million for the development of an engineering plan for the project.

“The next step is really going to be to determine your customer base,” said Gould. “So we need to get sign-ups, we need to get people to put deposits down and do those things so we can get a commitment of how many customers we are going to have, where they are going to be and make sure we get the lines to serve those.

“If people don’t hook up, we don’t really need to run a line in front of those businesses, but we expect quite a bit of demand out there.”

The project consists of a few different components to be designed and managed by LKC. The first is a new sewer pump station to be located in the general area east of the Food Lion on Seven Lakes Drive. A section of 10-inch force main from the pump station site would extend a short distance to 211, connecting to a force main.

In addition, a new 10-inch force main starting at the intersection of NC-73 West and NC-211 would extend eastward toward Pinehurst. According to the report, the exact location of the force main discharge will be determined during preliminary design.

Finally, a sewer network that uses gravity to move raw wastewater to a regional wastewater treatment plant is planned for the Seven Lakes business district. It is expected to consist of approximately 5,000 feet of 8-inch gravity sewer extending from the proposed pump station westward along Trade St and MacDougal Drive, past Seven Lakes Drive, and stopping at or near Grant Street.

The extent to which a new sewer line could spur new development remains unknown, but the large amount of under-developed land that will sit on a four-lane divided highway with water and sewer access is almost certain to attract the interest of commercial developers. Already the county has approved a new Tractor Supply retail store for the corner of N.C. 73 and 211.

However, commissioners say the decision to extend sewer is meant more to serve businesses and residents already in the area, as opposed to future users.

“But I still think this is a great idea,” said Picerno. “We can have some businesses out in Seven Lakes, restaurants especially.”

Contact Elena Marsh at (910) 693-2484 or elena@thepilot.com.