Blockade Runner project to reuse wastewater runoff for irrigation

Published: Dec. 8, 2016 at 6:34 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2016 at 11:01 AM EST
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - It may be the "off season" but don't tell that to the staff of the Blockade Runner at Wrightsville Beach. They're busy working on projects to improve the guest experience.

Right now, crews are working on a storm water reduction project at the beach resort.  This $85,000 project will redirect wastewater runoff into a new system that infiltrates and reuse the water for irrigation.

"At a resort this size, we can use 2,000 gallons of water a month, just to keep the AC on," Manager Nicholas Montoya said. "We're catching up to 53 years of construction, and when we have an opportunity to improve, we have to take it."

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, the town of Wrightsville Beach and the resort are working together on the project. The goal of the effort is simple:  keep as much waste water as possible, out of Banks Channel.

"What we're talking about is the pollution you can't see, and that's  bacteria," Tracy Skarabal said. " Warm-blooded animals generate bacteria, and that's what's ending up in waters and causing swimming advisories and closed shellfish waters."

The project acts like a giant French Drain to divert clean water and help trap and filter the dirty, so it doesn't get discharged along the beach.

"What we're doing is putting that storm water with it's hidden bacteria into the ground so it can be cleaned before it makes it way into our water supply," Skarabal said.

Once it's up and running, the new system is estimated to reduce the hotel's use of public drinking water for irrigation by a whopping 25 percent.

"I just think this is a business opportunity in which we can mature and as a community where we can grow," Montoya said. "It's for the future generations to leave all the clean water that we are enjoying today."

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