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.

Wastewater treatment

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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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...

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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,...

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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...

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