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DU board seeks sewer development

By Catherine Godbey · 340-2441

The city Planning Department hopes to increase development in Southwest Decatur by accompanying the Beltline Road widening project with the installation of sewerage to unserved areas.

Decatur Utilities commissioned Krebs Architecture and Engineering to study the estimated expenses associated with providing sewer lines.

The study encompassed the northern section of the Beltline from Old Moulton Road to Alabama 20 and Woodall Road to Pine Avenue. City officials view this area as potential for light industrial and commercial businesses as well as residential.

Adding sewer lines would eliminate the cost future businesses and residents would acquire from constructing onsite pump stations.

Krebs Vice President Paul Roebuck and Matt McDougal, project engineer, presented the company’s findings and recommendations to the DU board Wednesday.

The plan addressed the best feasible way to meet the city’s priorities while considering the most economical approach, Roebuck said.

Projecting a total cost of $5.6 million, recommendations include the addition of 16 gravity sewer lines and a pump station.

“Topography drives our approach in considering whether to lay gravity sewers or pumping sewers,” McDougal said. “The gravity sewers eliminate pumping costs, lower the maintenance and have a longer life.”

Board member Hugh Hillhouse and Chairman Neal Holland questioned the accuracy of the estimated expenses and possible setbacks, which would increase expenses.

“The reason we commissioned this study was to minimize the surprises,” Holland said.

McDougal pointed to rocks lying beneath the ground as a potential hindrance, but assured the board that the projected cost would cover the unforeseen expenses.

“These are conservative numbers on the high side and should account for any rock or tight laying conditions,” McDougal said.

Under further questioning, Roebuck said the company performs the projects at the estimated cost 80 percent of the time. Roebuck added the unstable construction market and a low number of bidders could contribute to a cost increase.

Before taking action the board requested details on how the proposed sewer lines corresponded with the city limits. Determining the layout of the sewer lines will let city officials monitor whether properties within or outside the city limits are using the lines.

“We (the City Council) are working on an ordinance to restrict sewer access to properties within the city limits. ... To access the lines, properties will have to be in the city limits,” said Councilman Ronny Russell, liaison to the board.

Board members will reconvene with McDougal and Roebuck to discuss the project. Once the board is confident about the plan, members will host a session that includes the city planners.

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