The Mobile Area Water and Sewer System is in the process of building three large basins that are designed to help prevent sanitary sewer overflows in the future.

While the utility continues to work on aging infrastructure — which is the root cause of many of the area’s overflows and is estimated to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars to completely fix — they are hopeful that large stormwater attenuation basins, like those under construction at 4200 Riviere Du Chien Road, can help mitigate future issues.

Roughly 54 percent of the MAWSS system is clay pipe that’s past its useful life.

Once completed, the three basins will be able to hold a total of 20 million gallons of wastewater during times of intense rain, regulating the main sewer lines and preventing overflows, MAWSS Assistant Director of Operations Doug Cote told a group of reporters before a tour of the facility.

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Without the basins in place, cracks and defects in old clay pipes comprising 54 percent of the system can become inundated by heavy rains and spill out of low-lying manholes, Cote said, noting many sewer spills occur in the area around Riviere Du Chien.

In addition to these basins, which are roughly 50 percent complete, Cote said MAWSS plans to build mores basins near Three Mile and Eslava creeks, areas where spills are also common.

The construction of the basins also coincides with a master plan MAWSS commissioned to detail the entire system’s assets, as well as a rate study. Cote said a rate hike would not be out of the question.

“This is not just a MAWSS problem, it’s a community problem,” he said.