Water and Sewer Operations
The Utilities Department provides water and sewer service to Hillsborough residents and out-of-town customers. It is responsible for water quality, treatment and infrastructure.
The Financial Services Department arranges connections for new customers, disconnections of service, schedules meter readings, and collects monthly payments. See the Water and Sewer Billing and Service page for information on these services.
The Water and Sewer Advisory Committee makes recommendations related to the management of the Hillsborough Water and Sewer Fund. See the appointed board’s page for membership and meeting information.
Report water line breaks, sewer spills and other water-related emergencies immediately by calling 919-732-3621.
Water advisories and notices
At times, the town may issue an advisory or notice about its water. See frequently asked questions on water advisories and notices. Customers are encouraged to:
- Subscribe to Town of Hillsborough news.
- Sign up for emergency notifications from OC Alerts, the public alert system in Orange County.
FAQ: Water Advisories and Notices (Downloadable version)
Infographic: Making Sense of Water System Advisories and Notices (English and Spanish)
Backflow prevention devices — 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.
Meters — Meters will be locked and a tampering fee and civil penalty will be assessed for any tampering to a meter or service connection. 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.
Water theft from hydrants
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 Billing and Service page.
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.
Distribution and collection division
The Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division repairs water line leaks, cleans and repair sewer lines, and maintains booster pump stations and sewage lift stations.
Staff members are responsible for the town’s programs on backflow prevention, annual and periodic flushing of the water system, and keeping wipes and fats, oil and grease out of the sewer system.
For more information, see the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division page and the Utilities Educational Outreach page.
Maintenance and protection programs
The town has several programs for maintenance and protection of its water and sewer system. Customers must participate in some maintenance and protection of infrastructure. See the Utilities Educational Outreach page for information on these programs:
- Annual chlorine disinfection
- Annual and periodic water system flushing
- Backflow prevention
- Easement responsibilities
- Fats, oil and grease diversion
- Water and sewer system assessment and maintenance
- Wipes diversion
The Eno River is the water source for the Hillsborough community. Water from the Eno River is drawn from three sites located in the Upper Neuse River watershed. The Eno and these three sites are considered surface water, natural water that has not penetrated much below the ground.
Lake Ben Johnston
This lake on the Eno River is Hillsborough’s intake location for water from the Eno. Seven Mile Creek enters the Eno River upstream of this area.
This lake on the east fork of the Eno River is located within Orange County and is a secondary source for water from the Eno.
West Fork Eno Reservoir
This reservoir on the west fork of the Eno River is owned by the Town of Hillsborough and is located outside town limits in nearby Cedar Grove. It is a secondary source for water from the Eno. Construction of the reservoir began in 1998, with the first phase opening in 2000. Work on the reservoir’s second phase began in 2018 and was completed in 2021.
Recreation ― including boating, hunting and fishing ― is not permitted at the reservoir or the surrounding town-owned property. The federal and state permits under which the town was allowed to build and expand the reservoir require that a 100-foot buffer around the reservoir be placed into a conservation easement. Because the town purchased the properties surrounding the reservoir, it is working with the state to put this land under deed restrictions to satisfy the requirement. The easement requires the land be kept in a natural state with no development, recreation or access other than to maintain the reservoir. The purpose of the easement is to protect the source of the town’s drinking water and to allow mitigation of the effects of the reservoir’s construction and expansion.
Were the town able to allow recreation at the reservoir, risks would include the introduction of invasive animals and plants, including hydrilla, which can cause damage to the environment and utility equipment. The town also does not have the resources to oversee public activities at the reservoir and cannot assume the risk or liability of allowing recreational activities.
The town’s treatment plants are responsible for preparing drinking water and for cleaning and disinfecting used water. The plants perform regular testing for contaminants and prepare annual reports about their treatment processes and testing.
Water Treatment Plant
The Water Treatment Plant takes water from the Eno River, cleans and disinfects it, and then pumps it to residents. Annually, the plant changes its disinfection method for one month as required by the state for cleansing of the water distribution system. For more information, see the Water Treatment Plant page.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Wastewater Treatment Plant removes nutrients from wastewater, disinfects the water with chlorine, and removes the chlorine before discharging the water into the Eno River. For more information, see the Wastewater Treatment Plant page.