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HU sewer project honored by EPA

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Fewer manholes overflow during torrential downpours here, and Hartselle Utilities is grabbing national attention.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded HU the 2006 Performance and Innovation SRF Creating Environmental Success award.

"Basically, we've done what we said we were going to do," HU General Manager Ferrell Vest said.

That's the simple way to explain the award, but the sewer rehabilitation project Hartselle started in 2000 is more complex.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which loaned Hartselle almost $3 million to rehab its system, nominated HU for the award.

Hartselle was one of four winners in eight Southeastern states and the only utility from Alabama.

"This says a lot about the workers we have here and how we are dedicated to making Hartselle a better place to live," Vest said.

HU's inflow and infiltration mitigation program started with the task of eliminating surcharging and sanitary sewer overflows.

To date, HU has restored 10 of the city's 13 drainage basins, repaired 37,000 feet of main lines, 20,796 linear feet of interceptors and rehabilitated 599 manholes.

One of the most significant changes since 2000 is the inflow and infiltration diversion bay at the treatment plant. When the city has heavy rains, it allows HU to divert wastewater to lagoons to be treated later.

HU has completed two of the four phases identified in a 2000 evaluation of the sewer system. Phase three is in the engineering and construction stages.

The fourth phase includes rehabilitating the city's more than 20-year-old wastewater treatment plant at an estimated cost of $6.7 million.

As Hartselle grows, this phase allows the city to increase its capacity and efficiency.

Vest is traveling to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to lobby for federal aid to help with the project.

"We started out trying to comply with ADEM standards and we're still working on that," he said.

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