Officials of the Coeburn-Norton-Wise Regional Waste Water Authority, the city of Norton, the towns of Coeburn and Wise, Wise County and others celebrate the completion of the treatment plant’s major expansion. HUNTER WILSON/LANE GROUP PHOTO
Just prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 16, the Coeburn-Norton-Wise regional wastewater treatment plant was officially designated a 6.5 million gallons per day facility.
As a large open house crowd looked on, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Regional Director Allen Newman presented a certificate to operate the newly renovated and enlarged regional wastewater plant to C-N-W Executive Director Mark S. Hollyfield.
Newman praised the regional sewer authority and the communities that came together to build the plant and to solve common challenges. He asserted that many underestimate the critical function of C-N-W in the daily lives of everyone and said that not many localities have plants as advanced as the facility just finished by C-N-W.
The C-N-W Regional Waste Water Treatment Authority was chartered in 1987. Discharging into the Guest River, the plant began operations in 1991 with a design capacity of 4 million gallons per day, serving Coeburn, Norton, Wise and several areas of Wise County.
With English Construction Co. Inc. of Lynchburg as the general contractor, plant expansion work began in 2012 at a cost of more than $14.96 million.
Many people have contributed to the success of C-N-W, Hollyfield said. “Two of the most notable in the formation of C-N-W are former Wise Town Manager Sim Ewing, here with us tonight, and the late Charles R. Brown, then the Norton city manager.”
Ewing recalled the intense legal and regulatory pressure confronting community leaders to find a solution to the inadequate sewage treatment facilities during the 1980s. Economic development was in limbo due to severe court-ordered restrictions on sewer connections, Ewing explained. He detailed how the original discussions between Wise and Norton expanded to include Coeburn. Later, Wise County expressed interest and secured capacity in the new plant. A regional approach proved to be the best solution to the sewage treatment dilemma then, is now, and will be into the future, Ewing believes.
As he reflected on his participation in the early concept of the regional wastewater authority through this most recent project, Bobby Lane said the C-N-W Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant always stands out in his forty-five years as a professional engineer. Lane’s firm provided engineering, design, construction management, and inspection services for the renovation and enlargement in conjunction with CHA and Thompson+Litton.
“They said it was impossible to bring everybody together to create the authority. Then they said it was impossible to get a 4 million gallon-per-day discharge permit on the Guest River. After that, it was going to be impossible to build the plant on this site. We accomplished all of those and now we have managed to build another project here with even more capacity,” Lane noted.
The Virginia State Water Control Board authorized two loans, one at zero percent interest, for the C-N-W project that are being administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Resources Authority.
Accompanied by representatives of C-N-W, participants, staff, and citizens, board Chairman Caynor Smith cut the ribbon for the new facility. During tours that followed, visitors learned of the many complicated steps of treatment that improve water quality in the Guest River and protect the health of humans and aquatic life.
Reflecting later on the decade of effort that led to the open house, Smith said that the C-N-W plant is a facility that people in Southwest Virginia should be proud of. “Our leaders should utilize this to promote development. It should open a lot economic doors for us.” He described the plant as a state-of-the-art facility that will provide critical service in the coming decades. Smith praised the hard work of DEQ, the C-N-W director and staff, and all who contributed to the success of the project.
— Provided by C-N-W.