Major work ahead

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Utilities expect to spend $5.5M on repairs

Andalusia City Council members were told to brace themselves for what lies ahead.

Mayor Pro Tem Terry Powell, who also is a member of the Utilities Board, told council members in Tuesday’s workshop meeting that the board is preparing to undertake major projects to reduce the amount of storm water that infiltrates the sewerage lines.

“We have a tremendous amount of water that is storm runoff that gets into sewer system,” Powell said. “It then runs through our water treatment facility.”

The infiltration ups the cost of treating sewage, he said, and puts stress on the system.

The Utilities Board is working with an engineering firm to determine where the infiltration is taking place so that repairs can be made, he said. Initial estimates for fixing the problem are $5.5 million, he said.

“When some of this is being repaired, keep in mind that some sewer lines are under perfectly good streets, and there will be no grants to repair them once we dig them up,” he said. “We’ve got lots of infrastructure cost coming down the pike.

“Our water treatment facility is 20-plus years old, and its life expectancy is 20 to 25 years,” he said.

He told council members he wanted them to be aware of the issues.

“When you get the question, ‘Why did my water rates go up?’ Well, we’ve gotta pay for all of that.”

He said the board recently implemented the second of three planned rate increases for electric and water rates. The new rates were established almost four years ago with the help of a rate consultant, he said.

Both the base rate and the consumption rate for water increased, he said.