camp hill lagoon

Grants will be used to repair the sewage lagoon for Camp Hill. Aerators will be added and other work will bring it closer to working efficiently. The weeds and lilies seen on the lagoon should not be there. Lilies should cover only the margins occasionally growing into the middle of the lagoon.

Camp Hill will begin to see some improvements to the town’s sewer thanks to more than $500,000 in grants. 

For almost a decade the town has been under a consent decree because of the discharge from the sewage lagoon that leads to Sandy Creek. In 2015 and 2016, estimates put repairs on the lagoon and sewer system more than $4 million. Mayor Ezell Smith said the grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will help start repairs on the lagoon.

“It won’t bring it all the way up to code, but it will help us get started,” Smith said.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday a $200,000 grant to help Camp Hill repair its wastewater treatment plant to serve its residents more effectively and bring it into compliance with environmental regulations. Smith said the town received notice of the ADECA grant in February.

“The Appalachian Regional Commission has helped eligible Alabama communities, like Camp Hill, address serious issues without placing further financial burdens on the town or its residents,” Gov. Ivey said in a press release. “Alabama’s partnership with ARC has produced positive results, and I commend the town of Camp Hill for using the resources available through this partnership to resolve this particular issue.”

The funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be combined with a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant awarded to the town by Gov. Ivey in 2019. The town will use the funds to address inadequacies at the sewage treatment plant that have led to sewage discharge violations.

Court records reveal the consent decree is from the lack of a monitoring station failed to collect samples at times. The records also showed many times the discharge included unacceptable levels of fecal coliform, nitrogen, oxygen, BOD Carbonaceous, suspended solids, ammonia, chlorine and unacceptable pH levels.

Several consultants and volunteers have tried to help the town with its sewage issues. In 2015 consultant Jon Broadway brought up a stop-gap solution of aerators in the lagoon but said there are more issues to deal with. 

“The biggest problem I see with the sewage issues is the lack of administration and organization,” Broadway told the council in 2015. “Nobody knows what they are supposed to be doing or who they answer to. We can spend all the money in the world, but without some organization, you will be right back to where you started in just a few years. I see that 80% of the problems are administrative and 20% are with the lagoon.”

The $535,000 in grants will be matched by the Town of Camp Hill in the amount of $35,000. The project will improve aerators at the sewage lagoon and replace several sewer pumps. The system serves about 436 households. 

“Combining these two grant resources for maximum benefit is economically beneficial and wise,” ADECA director Kenneth Boswell said in a statement. “I join Gov. Ivey in applauding local leaders for working together to improve the lives of their residents.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.