UNC’s Bingham Facility has been fined $16,612.48 by the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources related to last fall’s illegal discharge of 630 gallons of treated wastewater from a storage pond into Collins Creek. The discharge continued for more than a month until UNC conducted a dye trace and discovered the source and path of the leak. DENR issued a notice of violation in December for the discharge.

According to the penalty letter, the lagoon liner had more than 100 places that needed to be patched because there were deep cuts, perforations or seam damage.


Jay Zimmerman, regional supervisor for the Aquifer Protection Section of the Division of Water Quality, told the Indy there were several factors in assessing the penalty, including the subsequent releases from leaking and broken pipes in the wastewater system.

The penalty could have been more severe—as much as $25,000 per violation per day.

UNC has 30 days to respond to the penalty. It can appeal it, pay it or ask that it be reduced.

In a letter to neighbors, associate vice chancellor Dwayne Pinkney wrote that UNC is not surprised by the penalty because DENR had advised the university it could be fined last December.

“Meanwhile, we are moving forward with a study of an integrated water system for the Bingham Facility that will treat the wastewater generated there to the level of reclaimed water, which addresses your concerns about water usage and water quality. We will continue to update DENR and Orange County on our progress, to make sure past mistakes are not repeated.”