Yet, the sewer system in Pell City has a continuing problem with overflows. According to an annual report on municipal water pollution prevention, the city’s sewers overflowed 81 times last year, primarily in the first four months.
The city’s response: They’re working on it.
And, in fact, they are. Rehabilitation of the city sewer lines is scheduled to be complete in September 2012, with increased pumping capacity to greatly reduce the occurrence of overflows.
City officials won’t go so far as to claim that the improvements will end the problem completely. Extreme conditions can always flood the system — think about what’s happening in towns along the Mississippi River right now and remember the flooding around Logan Martin Lake back in March.
Even so, the upgrades to the Fishing Creek and Wolf Creek Road North lift stations and an additional $3.5 million in new sewer lines are expected to increase the pumping capacity sufficiently to prevent overflows in normal weather years.
If 81 sewer overflows in a year sounds like a lot, well, it is. It is too many. But it’s a big improvement over the previous year, when Pell City’s sewers overflowed more than 200 times.
The mere thought of overflowing sewers is repugnant. Since the scheduled completion of the system is still 16 months away, can anything be done to reduce the load on the system in the meantime?
Residents can make small contributions — or, in this case, reduce the size of their daily contributions — that can add up to a sizable reduction in the wasted water flowing into the wastewater treatment plant.
According to the 2010 Census, Pell City is home to 12,695 people, all of them presumably flushing their toilets, bathing and having clothes washed. All the water that comes out of all those faucets eventually ends up in the sewer system.
The system is designed to process 2 million gallons of wastewater a day — that’s 157.5 gallons per resident per day when the system is at capacity. Most months, it’s more than enough. But in late winter and early spring, the times of heaviest rain in this part of the South, as much as 3 million gallons of water a day flow through Pell City’s sewers.
Think about this as you brush your teeth, wash veggies for dinner, splash the kids in the bathtub or flush the toilet: Do you really need to send 157.5 gallons of water into the sewer every day?