City officials pursuing water, sewer upgrades

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 17, 2009

The city’s water and sewer system is a big, nebulous, confusingsubject, but one thing is certain: Brookhaven has several needs inthat area.

In addition to just needing to be updated in older areas of thecity, some annexed areas are still on water wells and need to beput on the city’s water system.

The city and county have collaborated on a grant to work on thesewer and water system in the annexed area that encompasses thesouth and southeast parts of the city.

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“It’ll do the water and sewer and the fire hydrants for thatarea,” Mayor Les Bumgarner said. “The county helped us qualify forthat grant, and it’s a big help in those annexation areas.”

The $1.2 million expansion of all new pipes and equipment willbe paid half-and-half by the city and the county with theassistance of a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant recentlyawarded by the Mississippi Development Authority. The CDBG grantcomes through the county because Brookhaven had already received agrant last year for the construction of the senior citizenscenter.

But in addition to bringing those residents in on the city’swater and sewer system, it’s also about maintaining the city’s fireinsurance rating, which is currently a six on a scale of 10.

Bumgarner said the State Rating Board does inspections everyfour years to determine the rating, and the city was inspected twoyears ago.

“We’re working on that now,” he said. “What they do is come intotown and see what progress we’re making and what’s on the drawingboard and what’s in the plans for the future. So there’s not anexact two year cutoff.”

The Brignall community is another place that has city officials’attention, as it is in desperate need of a fire loop.

“I’m very concerned about it. It’s still one of our prioritiesthat we’ve got ongoing, but we’re trying to see what avenue we’regoing to take to get some grants or stimulus money to do this,”said Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron. “It’s an ongoing thing, andthere’s nothing definite on when or how we’re going to fund it.It’s not in the 2010 budget that we’re working on right now.”

There have been at least two situations in Brignall since theannexation where Brookhaven Fire Department has had to call involunteer tanker trucks to bring more water when their trucks ranout of water since fire hydrants are not available in the Brignallarea.

“We don’t own that water system up there,” Cameron said. “Thatpiping that they have isn’t sufficient to handle a fire hydrant.But when it came into the city, we’re obligated to add someprotection, and this is an important issue.”

Bumgarner explained that the city does not inherit the watersystem just because the area has been annexed. Lincoln Rural Waterhas what he called “a regulated monopoly” for residential waterservice there, so the city will have to run a fire loop separatefrom the current water system that is in place now.

“We don’t care that they have the water system,” he said. “We’rejust worried about the fire hydrant situation, because we want toprotect the houses and businesses up there, and we realize a truckcan only carry so much water.”

Another project would add water and sewer from Brookhill toHighway 84.

Bumgarner said residents of Moreton Estates, Oak Hill and DeerRun Trail are still on well water. He said those areas will be puton city water and sewer and will receive fire protection aswell.

Other current projects, funded with 55 percent federal money,are in the areas of Field Lark Lane to Kids’ Kingdom on IndustrialPark Drive; on Industrial Park Drive from Kids’ Kingdom to UnionStreet; and in the “east interceptor” area on the east side of towncrossing Williams Street. On the west side of town, theimprovements are in the area of Brookway Boulevard, Comstock andWest Chippewa Streets.

“A lot of our existing sewer lines are 50-60 years old,”Bumgarner said. “They’re decaying, and this causes seepage, bothinto the system and out.”

The older clay pipe is being systematically and graduallyreplaced with PVC pipe, which is airtight. Bumgarner said whenrainwater and ground water seep into the sewage, it increases theamount of processing the Wastewater Treatment Plant has to handle,thus costing the city more money.

“Financially, it’s a good plan to stop the seepage,” hesaid.