The Orange Water and Sewer Authority or OWASA is a community–owned utility that exemplifies community commitment to environmental protection and sustainable management of natural resources in North Carolina. The goal is to protect the environment through effective management and operation of the wastewater collection system, treatment, water reuse and resource recovery systems at the Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). OWASA has provided the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, highly treated reclaimed water. Water conservation by all customers and the University’s continued use of reclaimed water are key strategies to sustain an adequate water supply. Partnerships with local governments and other communities are significant factors in fulfilling responsibilities while protecting the environment and helping to ensure the best use of water.
OWASA is responsible for large and complex systems of sewer infrastructure, assets and resources including over 800 miles of pipe, three reservoirs, two treatment plants and support systems and equipment, along with land holdings in excess of 2,500 acres. Over approximately 10 years, an investment of $138 million has been made to renew or replace aging sewer infrastructure and to improve the quality and reliability of services. The continuing challenge is to develop, operate, maintain, and manage the city’s infrastructure and resources to meet current and future customers’ demands for high quality and cost-effective services under a range of conditions, including natural and man-made disasters. Protection of the environment and meeting all regulatory requirements, as well as striving to provide service at the lowest rates possible, is at the forefront of current initiatives. To meet this challenge, OSAWA has applied asset management best practices and has achieved ongoing solutions that adequately balance aspects of environmental, social, and economic performance. Additional strategic initiatives include developing a long term plan for forest land and implementing cost effective metering infrastructure.