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Hopes for Somerville sewer high after public hearing

By Ronnie Thomas 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — Optimism is running high here for a sewer system after an environmental consultant reviewed Somer-ville's $3.7 million proposal to 23 residents at a public hearing Monday.

The Somerville Town Council is hopeful the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Administration will approve a matching grant that could leave the town paying only 25 percent of the total cost.

"We're eligible for a grant of up to 75 percent, but we'll take whatever we can get," said Mayor Ray Long.

Larry Whitley, president of Ladd Environmental Consultants Inc. of Fort Payne, said the project cleared a major hurdle when several agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the Alabama Historical Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Natural Resources, approved the Phase 1 plan.

Whitley said his group based the project budget on the average water bill of $38.66 for Northeast Morgan County Water Authority's average 6,763 systemwide customers over a 12-month period.

"Whatever the water rate is, the sewer rate will match it," he said.

Long said Somerville would have 292 customers at start-up and that hooking on is mandatory for residents and businesses inside town limits. He said that normally the charge for a tap fee is $3,100 and cleanup costs are $2,000. He said Somerville will waive those charges.

"We're mixing gravity flow with low pressure force main," Whitley said. "Each home will have a small grinder pumping station, but at an average 250 gallons per day, the electrical cost would be less than $1 per month."

Priceville's responsibility

Whitley said the project calls for 30,000 feet of 8-inch force main polyvinyl chloride pipe running down the north side of Alabama 67 from Somerville to Cove Creek Crossing subdivision at Priceville. Priceville has agreed to treat Somerville's sewage.

Long said the system from Berry Road into Priceville will be Priceville's responsibility.

"That's the break point, and we will install a meter there," he said.

Whitley said there would be 75,000 feet of 6-inch PVC pipe to feeder streets off the highway, 14,600 feet of 2-inch pipe to some of the smaller roads where there is limited housing and 16,000 feet of 11/4-inch pipe from homes to truck lines.

Long said the town already has applied for congressional appropriations for Phase 2 of the system, which would pick up at Sharp Road and go east to businesses at Alabama 67 and Alabama 36, such as Jack's Family Restaurant. The restaurant is among businesses asking for annexation in hopes of getting sewer.

Long said that once the Rural Development Association approves the grant for Phase 1, the town will then be able to seek a grant from the Alabama Department of Community Development "and other state grants. We'll go after all we can get."

The mayor said he feels confident Somerville will get the grant because "the area needs it and we're in a prime location for growth. If we can get sewer, we'll see things open up. But whether we grow or not, houses need sewer. It's true we're trying to stimulate growth, but we want to help people who are already here. "

Whitley said that once Rural Development approves the grant, it would take a year or more to have the system operating.

The only voice at the public hearing that anyone might construe as being in opposition to the sewer came from Morgan County resident Harley Moon.

"I don't want to be in Somer-ville," he said.

"We don't want you," Long replied.

After the meeting, Moon said, "The mayor and I have been back and forth a few times. My septic tank has been checked and is working perfectly."

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