Customers dont want higher sewage bills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Customers welcome the improvements, but not a higher bill.

Around $9 million dollars in improvements are underway at The Dallas County Water and Sewer Authority, and some of that cost will most likely be passed on to the customers, water board members say. It has not yet been determined how much the cost hike will be if there is one.

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The projects will affect 89 homes in on Henry Street, Gains Avenue, South Avenue, West Drive and Dawson Street off of they the Cecil Jackson bypass. The area was selected because grinder pump repairs and replacements are more frequent than other areas and more costly. The grinder pumps pull sewage from the home to the sewer lines.

One of the projects is an upgrade to the sewer system to prevent back ups. The grinder pump system in place now will be replaced by a gravity flow system. The current system requires electrical components, which require maintenance. The new system won&8217;t require any installed parts, as the lines will be replaced at a slant so sewage will go directly to the sewer lines by using gravity.

John Bell, like his neighbors Robert Maxwell and Roxie Simpson had no complaints about the authority&8217;s service. Any time their pumps have stopped working, the authority has responded quickly.

However, none of them want to pay more for service.

Although she&8217;s not looking forward to paying more, Simpson said she thinks having a more reliable sewer system is worth paying $1 or $2 more.

The United States Department of Agriculture loaned the authority $3.424 million loan

to pay for the project. The department also awarded a $1.523 million grant to the authority in March.

If the rates increase, water and sewer board officials predict the hike won&8217;t occur until next year, but the board is already taking steps to bring in other revenue by selling money orders and collecting fees by taking payments for other utility companies.

David Hamm, the Water and Sewer Authority&8217;s general manager, said the new system will save the authority money because repairs and replacements are costly.

The pumps are $650 to repair and about $1,300 to replace. Two or three are replaced every month.

Industrial firm Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc. of Montgomery is handling the sewage project.

September is the predicted completion date for the planning stage, and then the job will then be bid out.

Sewer service should not be interrupted during the project, which is predicted to take a year and a half to complete.

The authority services 150 pumps total. No plans are in the works to replace the remaining 61, but Hamm said the pumps would likely be replaced at a later date.

One utility company involved in the project is already at work. Alagasco servicemen were in the area of South Avenue on Tuesday marking the gas lines to prevent them from being dug up or severed when digging for the project begins.