City may change sewer laws

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Atmore City Council plans to vote Tuesday to update the city’s sewer ordinance, in order to bring it into compliance with federal and state regulations.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said that ADEM (the Alabama Department of Environmental Management) has previously asked the city to make the changes to the ordinance, but those modifications have been delayed. Now, the city has no choice but to update the laws in order to become compliant, he said.

Some of the required changes only affect the city and the West Escambia Utilities Board, while others will affect local homeowners and business owners.

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Kenny Smith, manager of West Escambia Utilities, said one of the biggest changes is that all restaurants would now be required to have a grease trap, and have them pumped out at regular intervals.

Smith said that restaurants will have 180 days to purchase the grease traps, but leeway will be given if it’s obvious that an effort is being made. Any business that cannot install the grease trap will be charged an “environmental impact fee” of $2.50 per thousand gallons used.

“We’re not doing anything that most other towns of our size haven’t already done,” said Smith, about the updated sewer ordinance. “We know that some citizens and business owners aren’t going to be happy about these changes, but at this point it’s a necessary evil.”

Smith said that city officials began working on the updated ordinance back in 2010, after ADEM told the city that it was out of date and not being enforced strictly.

The updated ordinance will be discussed at the Tuesday, May 26, city council meeting at 4 p.m. This meeting is open to the public and anyone is invited to attend.