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.
Citrin Cardiology

Wastewater treatment

A river of sewage runs through it

Here’s something fun to think about: In the first eight months of this year, more than 21 million gallons of raw sewage has been discharged into Mobile and Baldwin county waterways. Yes, that’s 21 million gallons — roughly 32 Olympic-sized pools worth of poopy water dumped into bayous, creeks and the bay. Those spillage numbers come from Mobile Baykeeper, the local group that advocates for crazy things like clean water and air in our community. Lately they’ve been focusing a good bit on getting the word out about these massive sewage spills, and if 21 million gallons won’t get...

Read More

Baldwin sewer service costs a lot more in some places than others

As Baldwin County continues to grow, the need for sewer service continues to increase. A survey of single-family residential sewer fees in Baldwin County revealed a wide variation in both tap fees for new construction and monthly usage rates. Apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult, however. Some sewer system operators charge minimum fees per thousand gallons used, some have standard base or monthly rates and some charge more for single-family residential service outside city limits. Commercial rates often take into account the size of the business and essential questions such as how many people work in the building. Despite the challenges,...

Read More

People living outside Fairhope take advantage of city services, mayor says

Fairhope Karin Wilson’s State of the City presentation Tuesday evening was more of a Part One. Saying she’s still working on strategies and priorities for the future and seeking feedback from others, Wilson focused on “where we’ve come from,” and “where we are.” “Where we’re going” will be the subject of a similar event in June, she said. After opening with some of the history of Fairhope dating back to 1870, Wilson said she’s looking at the number of people who live outside Fairhope’s city limits but take advantage of its amenities that are provided through the tax dollars...

Read More

Baldwin County Sewer Service serves growth markets

Until they stink, overflow or back up, sewers are easy to ignore. Let someone see it or smell it, though, and everyone wants their sewers fixed yesterday. In a fast-growing place like Baldwin County, money, politics and the environment can also influence public interest in sewer service. It may not be the first thing a future homeowner thinks about when looking at a house or talking to a builder, but the price of a tap fee or the pros and cons of sewers versus septic tanks is probably going to come up sooner or later. When a city runs...

Read More

Fish River residents claim they weren’t notified of proposed sewer line

Down along Fish River, residents made it clear the other night they don’t want a sewer line running under it. “We’re here tonight because we were damn well upset,” said Dick Sute, a retired vice president of Volkert Inc. and co-organizer of what was intended to be an informal meeting of residents to discuss the proposed sewer line. When elected officials and representatives of Baldwin County Sewer Service turned up March 15, they got an earful from about 50 people who crowded into the Marlow Fish River fire station. As happened about 15 years ago, the interests of developers, landowners, private business and public government are again clashing over a quickly growing area of Baldwin County. On the west side of Fish River, off Ferry Road near County Road 32, the privately run BCSS serves 96 customers who are linked into a Fairhope city sewer line. On the east side, off the Honey Road boat launch, BCSS serves customers with lines that run to its Malbis wastewater treatment plant. As a result of litigation dating to 2002, BCSS and Fairhope agreed the west side customers could be served by BCSS lines through Fairhope’s wastewater treatment for 10 years, until the agreement expires on July 12 of this year. The agreement could have been extended, but in December Fairhope notified BCSS it would shut off the service and both parties...

Read More

Environmentalists push for better notification of sewage spills

Mobile Baykeeper has joined eight conservation groups across the state in a petition urging Alabama’s Environmental Management Commission to clarify and expand the way the residents are notified about sewage spills and overflows. Along with Baykeeper, the petition was submitted by the Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper, Friends of Hurricane Creek, Little River Waterkeeper and Tennessee Riverkeeper. The push for a better notification system follows a year that saw several incidents related to sewage overflow, including one in Northport that resulted in 4 million gallons of sewage flowing into the Black Warrior...

Read More

Sewer service expansion a ‘24-year saga’

By Eric Mann For years, residents in some of Daphne’s older neighborhoods have asked the city to extend access to its sanitary sewer system so they can disconnect from potentially hazardous septic tanks. Now residents in the city’s largest pocket of non-sewered homes will have the chance to connect to the system. The city will spend approximately $1.6 million to complete the Whispering Pines sewer project, which will extend sewer service to 96 residents along and near Whispering Pines Road east of U.S. 98 and west of Baldwin County Road 13 in Daphne. To date, the city has spent $97,841 for design engineering services and budgeted $1.38 million in the 2016 fiscal year for the project’s construction, but an additional $450,000 recently approved by the Daphne City Council will help break ground on the project. “This goes back to Mayor [Bailey] Yelding, who had this great idea to make sure everyone in the city had access to sewer service,” Dane Haygood said. “At that time we had seven areas in the city without a connection to the city’s sewer system. We are down to six now, and the Whispering Pines project will get us down to five.” In 2011, the city connected homes along Baldwin County Highway 64 from U.S. 98 to Pollard Road to the sewer system. Haygood said the Whispering Pines project will take up the bulk...

Read More

Utilities, environmental groups discuss recent sewer overflows

An extremely high number of sanitary sewer overflows were reported in Mobile and Baldwin counties during the last week of December. While historically significant rainfall can be blamed for most of the issues, a local environmental watchdog organization said more has to be done to prevent future problems in one of the country’s rainiest areas. Between the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System and several systems in Baldwin County, the area suffered more than 120 instances of untreated sewage overflowing into local waterways. The overflows sparked a number of recreation and consumption warnings from local and state health agencies. Mobile Baykeeper reported 120 different sanitary sewer overflows along the MAWSS infrastructure from Dec. 22 to Dec. 30. One of the largest spills during that time saw 117,000 gallons flow into Halls Mill Creek. On Dec. 24, more than 334,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed into Three Mile Creek in two different locations. MAWSS spokeswoman Barbara Shaw blamed all of the 110 reported overflows during that week on heavy rainfall. According to a report covering the period Dec. 21-25, MAWSS service areas saw between 6 inches and nearly 8 inches of rain. The largest 24-hour volume during that time was the 5.5 inches that fell on Trimmier Park.   “A lot depends on the intensity and amount of rainfall,” Shaw said. When it rains like it did in late December,...

Read More