Water Works and Sewer Board issues took center stage at the Demopolis City Council meeting Thursday morning, which ended with outgoing Mayor John Laney severely criticizing the department for mismanagement.
What triggered the mayor’s comments was the problem presented by Charles Howerton of Wal-Mart. Howerton told the Council that the store has been having severe sewage problems since April because of a broken lift station. He addressed the Council to find out when repairs to the lift station would be made.
Howerton said 17 different service calls to the Water and Sewer Board after hours and on weekends about sewage backing up or clogs went unanswered. The store paid more than $12,500 on plumbing issues before the end of the third quarter.
“With the pump station not working it’s causing water not to flow through our system like it should,” said Howerton. “We’re just trying to find out what the situation is.”
Howerton’s concerns led to Laney’s comments. “I do think the city should take into account the expense that Wal-Mart has incurred that they should not have incurred had they gotten a good response from the Water and the Sewer Board,” he said.
“This is just an ongoing pattern,” he continued. “The Water and Sewer Board this year lost a lawsuit with Foster Farms because they couldn’t come to help them out.” Laney said the board’s insurance company ended up paying $250,000 in legal fees plus $250,000 to Foster Farms.
He showed the Council a chart detailing the losses incurred by the Water Board since 2012. That year the department could not account for the loss of 22 percent of their water. So far this year the number has risen to 52 percent.
“The responsibility for this rests with this Council because as long as this Council refuses to replace people and look at the performance of boards, we are going to continue to have problems in this town.”
“They do have some issues,” said Councilman Charles Jones Jr., who serves on the Water and Sewer Board. He said the needed parts for repairs had been delayed because of the pandemic, but they have arrived, and Jones said he would make sure the work is done as soon as possible.
Mike Baker, projects director, reported results of water quality tests had been received confirming the presence of raw sewage in the ditch behind the home of Richard Fountain on South
Fountain has been complaining for years about the problem, but it wasn’t until this week that his concerns were confirmed.
Baker said samples were taken at five points upstream from Fountain’s home that registered sewer infiltration, with levels high enough to show problems.
The issue now will be turned over to the Water and Sewer Board to determine where the sewage is coming from and to take action to correct it. If the board cannot handle it, ADEM will be called in.
Non-action at a previous meeting gave the…
Read more:: Water, Sewer Board comes under fire