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This blog was written by EmpPOWERment Faculty and Staff, including Bella Hernandez, a rising Sophomore  in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y.  Bella works at EmPOWERment as a Bonner; she is working with EmPOWERment this summer through the Bonner NC Summer of Service internship. 

This week EmPOWERment, Inc. would like to recognize the great work that the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) has done in our community! This summer OWASA has graciously accepted five of our Career Explorers from our youth employment program, offering these young people full time employment for the summer. OWASA has encouraged these students to participate in future sessions of Career Explorers, offering them the possibility to rejoin their staff the following summer!

We at EmPOWERment, Inc. see our partnership with OWASA as a real success story allowing us to expand employment opportunities for the youth in our community. This summer we placed two students, Tierra Perry and Jada Young, in the Customer Service department. These two young ladies worked alongside Angie Smith, Billing Supervisor, building upon their knowledge of working in a professional business environment. This fall Jada Young and Tierra Perry will be incoming freshman at North Carolina Central University and East Carolina University respectively.

OWASA was also able to re-employ our past Career Explorer participant, Brian James, at the Cane Creek Reservoir.   There were two new faces in the Sewer Collection and Water Distribution departments, Jalen Riggsbee and Martez Farrington.  This was an excellent opportunity for our program participants to work outside as opposed to the traditional office environment. This fall Brian James will be completing his senior year at Winston-Salem State University and complete his final year as a Career Explorer this summer.

We wish our Career Explorers all the best as we draw closer to the new school year! EmPOWERment, Inc. would like to give a special thanks to Kelly Belcher, Randy Horton, Johnny Riley and Angie Smith for all of their support and care they have given to our Career Explorers Program!

EmPOWERment, Inc. offices are located at the Midway Business Center off of Franklin St. at 109 N. Graham Street across from Al’s Burgers. For further information about our youth employment program, please visit our website ( or give us a call at (919) 967-8779.

Be on the lookout for our Career Explorer Applications in early May of 2017 for our next summer session!

Community Partner Profile

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) is a public, non-profit agency providing drinking water, sanitary sewer and reclaimed water services to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. OWASA is owned by the community in the same way that the community owns local public schools, parks, fire stations, etc. OWASA is governed by a 9-member Board of Directors appointed by the elected boards of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County.  OWASA serves about 82,000 people.

At the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro, OWASA treats an average of 7.1 million gallons per day of drinking water. OWASA has received national awards for excellence in drinking water treatment. OWASA has three reservoirs: The Cane Creek Reservoir (the community’s primary water source), University Lake and the Stone Quarry Reservoir.

At the Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) near Finley Golf Course in southeast Chapel Hill, OWASA treats an average of 8.6 million gallons per day. In the last five years, OWASA has met all standards for wastewater treatment. Most of OWASA’s treated wastewater is recycled by releasing it to Morgan Creek, a tributary of Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake is a water source for several communities in the Triangle region.

Some of OWASA’s treated wastewater is used for non-drinking purposes to reduce the amount of water drawn from OWASA’s lakes. The University and UNC Healthcare use an average of 0.7 million gallons per day of this “reclaimed” water for irrigation, make-up water in cooling systems, flushing toilets in non-residential buildings, etc.

OWASA encourages customers to conserve water as a key part of managing the community’s water resources. Water conservation:

  •         helps the community prepare for future droughts,
  •         defers the need for and substantial cost of expanding system capacities,
  •         reduces customers’ OWASA bills and energy costs for heating water, and
  •         reduces greenhouse gas emissions related to energy use in treating and pumping water and wastewater.

OWASA’s offices are at 400 Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro. OWASA’s website ( includes information on laboratory testing of drinking water and treated wastewater, conservation, lake recreation, etc. OWASA can be contacted by e-mail to and at any time of day by telephone (919-968-4421).

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