Water works spends year modernizing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2000

Employees with

Boan Contracting Company of Greenville work to place a 16-inch main along Conecuh Street. When completed the new line will run from Walnut Street to the newest Greenville water well on County Road 45. The well was placed on the Ripley Aquifer during the summer and will pump 750 gallons of water per minute.

Photo by Robert Blankenship

It has been a year for improvements and modernizing for the Greenville Water Works and Sewer Board as they complete 1999 with a new well, up-to-date computer equipment and new sewer mains for a large portion of the city.

For much of this decade one of the main goals of the Water Board has been to find another source to supply the residents of Greenville with water. The Ripley Aquifer, which was at one time believed to be shallowing, proved that it was still the city's best source for water and a new well was built to utilize the resource.

Water Board Operation Manager Gerald Johnson said that the aquifer was the most cost-efficient place to put the new well and that after studying the Ripley Aquifer more thoroughly it was found the water supply there was still very plentiful.

"One of our achievements this year was that we found and secured a plentiful water supply and confirmed that we could still go to the Ripley Aquifer, which is the only water supply that is economically feasible for Greenville at the present time," Johnson said.

A new well, placed on County Road 45 in an area known as McKenzie Grade will draw water from the Ripley at 750 gallons of water per minute.

"A new deep well, which includes a five-mile, 16-inch transmission line into the city's distribution system has been constructed. We also were able to secure additional sites that can be used for future wells," he said.

This now puts the number of Greenville wells up to five. The four previous wells pump water at 300 to 550 gallons per minute.

In addition to the newest well, the Water Board also has stayed busy replacing old, worn-out water lines and fire hydrants throughout the city. Johnson said that some of these old lines had been a source for losing water.

"We replaced five miles of 100 year-old, fragile concrete water mains within the city. By doing this we have reduced water loss by eight percent in our distribution system.

"In doing this we also were able to replace 44 obsolete fire hydrants through the city that should be reflected in the fire insurance rating for the city's structures. This should have an impact on many individuals on how much they pay for fire insurance," he said.

One of the major projects for the water board in 1999 was the installation of a new gravity-flow sewer line in west Greenville.

"This line will provide sewers to the new high school and the south exchange at the interstate," he said. "This gravity-flow system has extra benefits as it begins at Claythorne Drive and extends to the southern city limits on County Road 22. This allows us to eliminate six sewer pumping stations."

The Water Board also updated some of their equipment in their office. In preparing for potential Y2K problems they updated much of the computer software and hardware. Other items added to their inventory this year should prove useful to the city in cases of emergencies.

"We bought new generators to allow us to run the complete water and waste system in case of a power outage," he said. "We also have acquired a new, state-of-the-art, computerized telemetry system which will assure a much-improved reaction time in case of an emergency."

The new telemetry system has recently been purchased, but has yet to be installed. It will warn the superintendent and another on-call employee if there are any problems with the system.

"Before we had to go around everyday, seven days a week to actually look at every well, pump and tank to make sure there were no problems. This will give us more time to work on other projects," he said.

The quality of personnel working with the Water Works and Sewer Board also has been upgraded said Johnson.

"We improved our water and waste-water certified operator status in 1999 by gaining two additional state-certified waste water operators and three additional state-certified water operators by training and educating our employees. We intend to add one more certified waste operator and two more waste-water operators in 2000," he said.

But, in 1999 the water board will be losing a long-time, devoted employee in Otto Duke, who is retiring after 33 years of service. Johnson said that his replacement has been selected and feels he will do a good job.

"We have hired and trained Kerry Philpot as the new water and waste water collection superintendent to replace Otto Duke, who has held that position for the past 33 years," he said.

Johnson said that the coming year will bring more changes in Greenville's water and sewer system. They recently have applied for a $250,000 grant to provide a gravity-flow sewer system in east Greenville like that supplied to the western portion of the city this year.

"We have plans to install a gravity-flow sewer line in east Greenville to alleviate the pressure on the older sewer lines north of the interstate.

"This line will tap into the sewer line on 185 North at Haygood's Quarters and will pass north of the Hampton Inn; under the interstate, north of the Greenville Academy and under New Searcy Road. It will parallel

the bypass and will go under Cloverdale Road, the railroad tracks and Airport Road and will tie into the sewer mains at Highway 10," he said.

A state-of-the-art computerized map of Greenville's water distribution system and sewer transport system also is in the works for this year.

A grant of $28,000 also has been received to fund a water source assessment which is a study of the potential for contamination for each of the wells.

Overall, Johnson feels the Water Works and Sewer Board has had a very productive year.

"We have been, and still are, faced with the monumental task of modernizing our water and waste water systems," he said. "But, it is evident through the progress we made in 1999 that we are attaining that objective of having the best quality water in the state of Alabama and a highly efficient waste-water system."