Archived Story

Water projects under way

Published 12:04pm Saturday, January 26, 2013

Engineering firm talks past, future improvements with Alexander City council

Council members heard an update from CH2M Hill in a work session to go over the engineering firm’s continued efforts to improve water management and sewer systems in Alexander City.

“Our main objective in that setting was for us to give the council a broader perspective as to how water and waste water work,” said Scott Cummings, CH2M Hill representative. “A lot of these projects are ongoing, and we wanted to make sure they are aware of some of the things they’ll be seeing in the near future … and make informed decisions.”

CH2M Hill representatives discussed ongoing rehabilitation projects, focusing on the continued elimination of disinfectant byproducts. Disinfectant byproducts are created when treated water interacts with chlorine used to rid water of bacteria and other organic materials.

One way the city has cut down on disinfectant byproducts – which form more rapidly when water sits in a system for too much time, a process that is catalyzed in high summer temperatures – is to take the Washington Street water tank offline.

“During the master plan, we were able to use the model to determine what tanks we could take offline because that was one of the problems,” Dana Raughton of CH2M Hill said. “The water was sitting there too long, and with the industry gone, it was creating these byproducts and getting very close to not meeting compliance.”

Another step CH2M Hill recommends the city take as soon as February is to begin using chlorine dioxide to treat the water toward the end of the water treatment process.

Cummings said adding the generator to process the chlorine dioxide is estimated to cost around $200,000 and is already built into the city’s budget.

“Chlorine dioxide has different reaction parameters … and is not as much of a producer of (disinfectant byproducts) as chlorine is,” said city engineer Gerard Brewer. “We are in compliance, but there were some samples in town where the (disinfectant byproduct) numbers were getting too close for comfort with compliance, so we say go ahead and bite the bullet and make the changes.”

Brewer said he is also working with CH2M Hill to evaluate the sewer system, of which the company has evaluated 40 percent to date. Brewer included in the fiscal year 2013 budget an amount of $800,000 in order to cover the cost of sewer renovation.

CH2M Hill showed council members slides with photos of various issues within the sewers, from blockages and crushed pipes to intruding tree roots.

Brewer said he calculated the $800,000 figure by finding the total amount of money to refurbish all of the city’s sewers and multiplying that number by 2 percent, meaning that if that 2 percent is factored into the budget each year, the city’s sewers would be completely replaced in a 50-year span.

CH2M Hill representatives commended the city for being proactive in making these changes.

“Everybody we’ve worked with has taken responsibility, so we’re just fortunate to be a part of working with you guys, and you need to be proud of the resources you have available,” Cummings said. “What you’re doing is definitely on the leading edge for a municipality of this size. You’re doing an exceptional job.”

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