Wastewater treatment

More than 23 million gallons of sewage has spilled in the Mobile-Baldwin county area this year, according to Mobile Baykeeper. In a special series of reports, Lagniappe is exploring why Mobile is struggling with an aging sewer and stormwater infrastructure and how Baldwin County is racing to keep up with explosive population growth.
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Wastewater treatment

ADEM, attorney general file suit against Daphne Utilities

According to court records, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Attorney General filed a complaint in the Baldwin County Circuit Court against Daphne Utilities Nov. 16 alleging reporting errors. This follows Mobile Baykeeper’s threat to file suit against the utility in September for claims of unreported sewer spills. READ LAGNIAPPE’s SERIES OF STORIES ON WASTEWATER TREATMENT ISSUES According to a statement from Daphne Utilities: “Once this notice was received, Daphne Utilities’ management reached out to ADEM, in a show of good faith, of its willingness to cooperate with its regulatory agency. The complaint by ADEM...

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Utilities manager disputes Baykeeper’s sewage spill estimate

At the conclusion of a tour of Daphne Utilities’ wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) on D’Olive Creek last month, General Manager Danny Lyndall pointed out one of the walls in an employee break room. It’s covered with about 20 awards from professional organizations. There are a few others piled up on a filing cabinet nearby. “We’re running out of room to hang them,” he said. There are awards for water quality, pollution control, distribution, recycling efforts and employee performance, among other things. When the plant works, Lyndall stressed, it’s one of the best in Alabama, if not the nation. But...

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Wastewater least noticed, most vital of public utilities 

By John Mullen Dealing with wastewater may not be the sexiest role of local government, but it is considered one of the most vital, officials say.  “Wastewater, in any city, is the behind-the-scenes, least appreciated, less mentioned entity of any department,” Orange Beach City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “But it’s the most important because everybody has to have water. And everybody has to have a place to discharge water.”  There are several systems in Baldwin County operating to handle, treat and release treated water back into the environment. Most are run by local cities or utilities and one private...

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MAWSS building sewer overflow basins near Riviere Du Chien

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. Once completed, the three basins will be able to hold a...

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As Baykeeper’s lawsuit looms, cities around bay struggle with sewage (updated)

By Gabriel Tynes, Dale Liesch and Jason Johnson Mobile Baykeeper’s Sept. 19 notice of intent to sue Daphne Utilities over fraudulent reporting was the latest salvo in an escalating effort to see that local utilities do something about the large releases of untreated sewage that accompany almost any large rainfall. According to Baykeeper, more than 23 million gallons of sewage has already spilled in the Mobile-Baldwin area this year. The environmental group also says even with the millions of gallons of sewage spills reported, they are still fighting efforts by some utilities to intentionally play down the severity of...

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Mobile Baykeeper intends to sue Daphne Utilities over ‘fraudulent’ spill reporting

Mobile Baykeeper notified Daphne Utilities of its intent to sue yesterday in response to alleged “fraudulent reporting activity [that] has continued for many months or years with management’s knowledge and direction.” The nonprofit environmental organization took action after an August sewage spill reportedly discharged 1 million gallons of untreated wastewater into D’Olive Creek but was reported as “zero” gallons by the utility. Baykeeper also notes at least four other issues that may form the basis of a lawsuit. The Clean Water Act requires a 60-day notification period before filing a citizen’s suit against a utility in federal district court....

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Prichard water board director questions contractor agreement

A longtime member of the Prichard Water Works and Sewer board of directors has publicly questioned the hiring of a former consultant set to make $270,000 on a three-year contract. Russell Heidelburg, who has been a director since 2008, said the board acted irresponsibly in approving the contract for Nia Bradley. “I call it ignorant racketeering,” he said. “They didn’t do anything to cover their tracks. They are not acting with fiduciary responsibility.” The money for the contract, which is roughly $7,500 per month, was not in the budget when the board agreed to hire Bradley. Heidelburg also said...

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MAWSS grapples with failure of Spanish Fort water pipe project

A $3 million project to upgrade a water main across the Mobile-Tensaw Delta has hit an unexpected snag and work has been temporarily stopped, according to a Mobile Area Water and Sewer System spokeswoman. The project, which involves installing an 18-inch ductile iron pipe, was halted after the project’s casing pipe collapsed, MAWSS spokeswoman Barbara Shaw wrote in an email. “The permanent repairs called for 3,000 feet of 36-inch steel casing to be pulled through a directionally drilled bore nearly 90 feet under the river,” she wrote. “When contractors pulled the casing through, the casing pipe collapsed. This stopped...

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