Sewer work finished, expect more

Published 6:18 pm Sunday, August 22, 2010

Atmore Utilities workers have a lot of work behind them with a good amount of work still ahead.

Tom Wolfe, manager of the Atmore Utilities Department, said work is near completion in the area of Magnolia Street, Alexander Drive and Presley Street.

“We are basically finished with the work in that area with the exception of a little clean up work,” Wolfe said Tuesday. “We have been digging up sewer service lines and making replacements and repairs through the area.”

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Wolfe said the sewer service line work was being done following extensive repair work on the main sewer line had been done.

“We have done a lot of work on the main sewer line by creating a liner to stop any leaks or other issues in the line,” Wolfe said. “Basically what we were able to do was line the old main with fiberglass. It was kind of like a sock in a way. We put it in the main then filled it with air. The fiberglass then cured into place to create a liner for the main line.”

Wolfe said the work that has already been done has caused the department to spend about a half million dollars to bring the sewer’s main and service lines up to a better standard.

“This work has cost about $500,000,” Wolfe said. “But, it is something that we had to do. We have already had to pay fines because of the inflow/infiltration of rainwater into the system. We were getting about three times the capacity of our system during heavy rains. That’s what has caused us to have to pay about $43,000 in fines to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. If we didn’t fix these problems, the fines would just keep on coming.”

Wolfe said there is a lot of work left to be down on the sewer system throughout the city, but he hopes to get a little help along the way.

“We are applying for a grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help with expenses on some of the additional work that we have to do,” Wolfe said. “The grant, which is about $2 million, would certainly help with expenses in doing more repairs. That grant could only be used to make those repairs in the downtown area of Atmore. But, any help we can get would be good for the city.”

Wolfe said a lot of money has already been spent with work at the sewer plant and making citywide repairs and upgrades is essential to keep that investment working.

“We have already spent a lot of money on the sewer plant,” Wolfe said. “We have just begun on the problem on the system. We need to get everything in order to make the money we’ve spent be a good, sound investment.”

Wolfe said the State Attorney General has already filed a court action against the City of Atmore for violations involving the sewer system.

“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Wolfe said. “We are doing our best to bring the system up to a standard that is acceptable for our citizens and for ADEM and state officials.”

Wolfe said work in other areas of the city will begin when approval of plans and funding are in place.