The Town of Hillsborough's mission statement charges personnel with enhancing the quality of life for the living beings and land within our town. Strategic objectives include conserving natural resources and expanding recreation, walkability and connectivity. This role as a steward of the environment is outlined in the Hillsborough strategy map.
Below are some of the environmental initiatives of town government.
Stormwater and Environmental Services Division
The town's Stormwater and Environmental Services Division was created to comply with a number of state and federal mandates for environmental stewardship. The division has since grown to include local initiatives. Among the division's functions are:
- Reviewing new development plans to ensure compliance with stormwater and stream buffer requirements.
- Inspecting new development construction sites to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
- Implementing a stream buffer protection program.
- Implementing an illegal discharge and dumping program.
- Inspecting town facilities to ensure compliance with stormwater pollution prevention practices.
- Inspecting town construction projects to ensure compliance with environmental permits.
- Inspecting private and public stormwater control measures to ensure functionality.
- Providing stormwater pollution prevention training to town staff.
- Conducting environmental education programs for schools and civic groups.
- Coordinating community trash cleanup programs.
- Coordinating volunteers for wetland and stream buffer plantings.
- Designing and building a rain garden in conjunction with Orange County’s Stillhouse Creek restoration project.
- Serving as the principal team member for the C.W. Stanford Middle School stormwater retrofit project.
- Assisting Eagle Scout projects that included invasive species removal and the creation of rain and pollinator gardens.
- Supporting the Clean Water Education Partnership, Upper Neuse River Basin Association and Eno River Hydrilla Task Force.
Hillsborough also is a Bee City USA. The town works to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in sustaining more than 75 percent of the world’s plant species and helps expand pollinator-friendly practices and environments in town. The town's Public Space Division and Tree Board are working in partnership with the Hillsborough Garden Club to develop the program and educational materials, including actions residents can take.
The N.C. League of Municipalities has recognized the town as achieving Level One in the NCLM Green Challenge. The challenge recognizes a commitment of cities and towns to efficient, energy-saving operations and practices.
The town has partnered with Orange County for curbside collection of recyclables throughout town and to provide collection bins for recyclables downtown and along the Riverwalk greenway. The town has invested in a battery-powered cart for use by Public Works Department employees when collecting trash and recyclables along Riverwalk. Additionally, the town collects appliances and scrap metal for recycling. Additional information is available on the solid waste page on this website.
Sewage spill prevention
The Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division works to prevent sanitary sewer overflows and the environmental damage they cause. The division’s fats, oil and grease program includes educational presentations at schools and public events about keeping these blockage-causing substances out of the town’s sewer system.
As part of its efforts to make Hillsborough a more walkable community, the town will be improving sidewalks and pedestrian crossings in the downtown area through the upcoming Churton Street Access Improvements Project. The Sidewalk Connections Project will create new sidewalks and connections to the Riverwalk greenway in West Hillsborough.
Parks and public spaces
The town recently has contributed to Eno River water quality by building a wetland area in Gold Park and a BioDock in Kings Highway Park.
Cates Creek Park is now home to a pollinator rain garden, and other pollinator gardens have been built in Gold Park and at the West King Street parking lot.
Additionally, the town recently entered into a new grounds maintenance contract with environmentally friendly requirements for pruning and mulching and for limited use of chemicals.
The Fleet Maintenance Division has taken several actions to benefit the environment, including:
- Extending oil service intervals from 3,000 to 5,000 miles where possible.
- Replacing a chemical-based parts washer with a water-based washer.
- Recycling used oil and oil filters.
- Separating oil from water drained from the shop and wash pit.
- Advising other departments on vehicle replacement with vehicles using the smallest engine sizes feasible.
Energy use and emissions
A major Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade in 2014 significantly reduced the amount of electricity used in treating the town's wastewater. Other energy-saving initiatives have included replacement of the windows in the Wastewater Treatment Plant's administrative building, the use of programmable thermostats and a tankless water heater on the Town Hall campus, and the use of LEDs in streetlights of newer developments.
The town Public Works Department has designed efficient solid waste collection routes to reduce fuel use. Newer dump, brush, leaf vacuum and garbage trucks use diesel exhaust fluid to lower exhaust emissions. The Police Department also limits vehicle idling to reduce fuel use and emissions.
The town encourages public transportation by helping to fund the Hillsborough Circulator Bus. Additionally, the upcoming Churton Street Access Improvements Project includes improved bus stops in the downtown area. The Rail Station Small Area Plan adopted by the town calls for eventual construction of a train station with bus connections south of downtown.
Reduced use of paper
The town recently began using electronic distribution of payroll direct deposit information, saving thousands of sheets of paper and an equal number of envelopes every year. The town also is moving to pay as many of its vendors as possible via electronic transfer, saving additional resources.
The citizens newsletter has been reformatted to fit on a single piece of paper and is now included with water and sewer bills rather than mailed separately.
Reduced water waste
The town's upgraded water meters and online billing portal allow customers to track their water use in real time, meaning leaks can be caught and repaired sooner, reducing waste. Additionally, plumbing at town facilities is checked for maintenance issues that could waste water.