Utilities Educational Outreach
The Utilities Department maintains educational outreach programs and has several programs for maintenance and protection of the town's water and sewer system. Customers must participate in some maintenance and protection of infrastructure, as required in the Hillsborough Code of Ordinances. See chapters 14 and 15.
Information, downloadable documents and videos are available below.
See the following additional resources:
For one month each year, the town is required by the state to use chlorine instead of a combination of chlorine and ammonia to disinfect public drinking water. This monthlong disinfection of the water system typically occurs in March. It helps ensure a high level of disinfection in water mains as chlorine is a more intense disinfectant than chloramines.
Customers may notice a chlorine taste or odor during this time. Your water remains safe to drink. See the Annual Chlorine Disinfection document for details and the effect on customers, particularly those who use water for special purposes. For more information, contact the Water Treatment Plant.
During the annual, monthlong chlorine disinfection process required by the state, the town releases water from fire hydrants and some valves in its water system. This “flushing” of the water mains helps ensure chlorine flows through the entire system and helps remove sediment and other minerals that may have settled in the system. The flushing can cause temporary cloudiness or discoloration of water and could discolor light-colored fabric. See the Water System Flushing document. For more information, contact the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division.
A properly operating backflow valve for plumbing allows flow in one direction, preventing contaminated water from entering potable water in a building during sewer system maintenance or backups. Consult a builder or plumber to find out if a particular building is required to have a backflow prevention device. For more information, see the FAQ: Backflow Prevention page on this website, or contact Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor Troy Miller by email or at 919-296-9653.
The town contracts with Backflow Solutions Inc. to manage its backflow test data. If you are notified by the town that a test is due on a backflow assembly on your property, it is your responsibility to contact a licensed backflow tester and to have the results submitted to Backflow Solutions. For a list of licensed, registered testing agencies, visit BSI Online with the customer confirmation number you have been assigned.
- New installations — The test form must be printed and signed by a licensed tester who performed the work, and a copy must be provided to Backflow Solutions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Existing assemblies — Licensed testers must submit test results to Backflow Solutions through BSI Online.
For more information, contact Backflow Solutions at 800-414-4990 or email@example.com.
Cross-connection control policy
View the Hillsborough Code of Ordinances for the cross-connection control policy.
The town periodically mows and clears brush from water and sewer easements or rights of ways to keep them accessible for routine maintenance and emergency response related to town utility assets. The mowing typically occurs in the spring and fall.
Make sure you are aware of any easements on your property and your responsibilities for them. Need to know if you have an easement on your property? Contact the Utilities Department administrative staff. Also contact them for permission before placing anything in an easement. The town does not plant in easements and will not replace any plants, fences, sheds or other structures that are removed from a town easement when utilities workers need to access the easement.
See the maintenance responsibilities document. For more information, contact the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division.
Fats, oil and grease poured down the drain will collect and stick to plumbing and sewer lines. Over time, lines can become blocked, causing sewer backups or overflows.
Properties that discharge greasy wastewater are required to have interceptors for fats, oil and grease. Residential customers can obtain a free fat trapper from the town. They also should:
- Discard used fats, oil and grease with other garbage or recycle at an Orange County solid waste convenience center.
- Avoid or limit use of garbage disposals.
- Scrape plates into trash cans.
- Use paper towels to wipe leftover oils and fats from pots and pans.
The town provides fat trappers to water and sewer customers to help keep grease and oils out of the sewer system. To receive a fat trapper or additional bags, contact Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor Troy Miller by email or at 919-296-9653. Or visit the Town Hall Annex, 105 E. Corbin St., where water bills are paid.
Fats, oils and grease policy
View the Hillsborough Code of Ordinances for the fats, oil and grease policy.
The town has limits on when irrigation can occur. Under normal conditions, spray irrigation is limited to 1 inch with three application days per week between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m.
- Even-numbered properties — These may use spray systems on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
- Odd-numbered properties — These may use spray systems Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Irrigation systems require:
- A separate water meter
- A backflow prevention device
- Rain or moisture sensors.
See the lawn irrigation systems document below and Section 14-19 of the Hillsborough Code of Ordinances on irrigation system requirements. Additionally, see the backflow prevention section on this page.
Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The town has no lead pipes in its distribution system. It adds a blended phosphate corrosion inhibitor to its water because some buildings in the community may have lead supply lines connecting them to the town’s distribution system.
If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.
If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) or at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.
Federal Lead and Copper Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set new standards for removing harmful levels of lead from drinking water. The revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule — released in December 2021 — require water systems to develop a publicly available inventory of public and private water service lines by Oct. 16, 2024. The town is working to comply with the requirements set and to identify lead service lines by the deadline.
Across the country, service lines commonly were made from lead pipe from the late 1800s, throughout much of the 20th century and in some cities as late as the mid-1980s. Installation of new lead service lines was prohibited in 1986, and the ban became effective in 1988. In Hillsborough, the town has records dating to the mid-1930s that call for copper or plastic water service lines and not lead. In working throughout the system and hearing from local plumbers familiar with the area, lead service lines have not been noted.
Only waste and toilet paper should be flushed. Household cleaning and personal hygiene products labeled as flushable or safe for sewer or septic systems do not dissolve. They clog sewer lines and can damage sewer pumps and other equipment.
See the documents below. For more information, contact Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor Troy Miller by email or at 919-296-9653.
Backflow prevention devices
Most backflow prevention devices are privately owned; however, the town does own some on town properties. If you see anyone tampering with a backflow prevention device or have experienced a theft of the device:
- Call 911 to have an officer dispatched.
- Contact Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor Troy Miller at 919-296-9653 or by email.
The devices are housed in utility boxes and prevent contaminated water from entering potable water in a building. They can be targets for theft due to their metal content. Property owners who have had a backflow preventer stolen or damaged will need to employ the services of a plumber.
Some options for preventing thefts of backflow preventers include:
- Employing community or neighborhood watch prevention, asking community members to report any suspicious behavior to police.
- Adding a lock to the backflow preventer box or installing a locking box, available from a plumber or from a plumbing warehouse. If locks are added, access must be given to the town.
- Cutting back any shrubs or other plantings to allow some view of the device and ensuring that an area of at least 5 feet around the utility is free of any growth.
Any tampering of a meter or service connection will result in the meter being locked and a tampering fee and civil penalty. Service will not be reconnected until all fees are paid in full. Repeated tampering will result in removal of the meter, additional fees to reset and reactivate it, and potential civil or criminal charges.
If you see a person or business taking water from a water hydrant without an orange meter box, report it immediately to 911 and to the Hillsborough Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division at 919-296-9651.
To help the town prosecute the case, discreetly take a photo if possible and note the time, date, location, name on the vehicle, vehicle number, and license plate.
Contractors are able to purchase bulk water from the town, which can be obtained from the Water Treatment Plant. Or they can rent water meters that are housed in an orange box with a backflow prevention device to safely and legally obtain water from a fire hydrant. See the Water and Sewer Service and Billing page.
Safety and operational concerns
Water theft can cause concerns for the public water system including:
- Water hammer (form of hydraulic shock) in the system that breaks pipes and damages equipment.
- Lowered water pressure for customers during the time of theft.
- Contamination of the public water system.
- Costs associated with repairing damage to the system.
The town has a drought policy that outlines water use restrictions during the various stages of a drought. Use of lawn irrigation systems is limited even during normal conditions. See the documents below and the irrigation systems section on this page.
View the Hillsborough Code of Ordinances for the drought policy.
Utilities crews routinely do preventative maintenance and repairs and remove roots from water and sewer lines. Additionally, they clean sewer lines with pressure washers.
Period leak testing of the sanitary sewer system is conducted. During this testing, a non-toxic, non-staining vapor resembling smoke is used to find areas of inflow and infiltration in the sewer pipes. See the the document below.
For more information, contact the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division.
See the Water and Sewer Billing and Service page for information on bill payment, meter readings, routine checks for leaks or malfunctioning meters or connections for new customers.
Report water line breaks, sewer spills and other water-related emergencies immediately by calling 919-732-3621.
105 E. Corbin St., Hillsborough, NC 27278
Offices are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Water Treatment Plant Superintendent
Utility System Superintendent
Deputy Utilities Director — Water Treatment
Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor