After several years of planning, a new $14 million wastewater treatment plant project will soon go under construction in New Albany.
Phase I of the project involves installing a pressure line from the existing plant to the new site and is expected to get underway in the next couple of weeks.
The pressure line will be about a mile and one half long and run adjacent to the Tallahatchie River.
There are several reasons New Albany Light, Gas and Water is building a new wastewater treatment plant, according to General Manager Bill Mattox.
Officials were faced with the decision of whether to build a new plant or refurbish the existing one, said Mattox. As wastewater treatment plants age, the steel and concrete wear out and the components get outdated, he said.
There are also concerns that permitting requirements may get more stringent in terms of how the wastewater must be treated, he added.
The plant discharges about 1.5 million to 2 million gallons of treated wastewater into the Tallahatchie River each day.
The current sewer plant is around 25 years old, which is the length of time the facility was designed to last, Mattox said.
The amount of wastewater that the plant can process also factored into the decision to build a new treatment facility, Mattox said. If the city gets more industrial and residential growth, the plant needs to be able to serve those customers, he noted.
The current plant is not in an ideal location either since there is residential and commercial development and park land in the area. It is located near the tennis and soccer complex.
When the plant was first built, there was not so much development around the site, but over the years the town has built up around the plant, Mattox said.
About 30 acres of land where the plant is currently located can be freed up for other uses once the treatment facility is located to the new site, Mattox said.
The new plant will be located in a rural area north of town off of State Highway 15 North but still within the city limits. About 90 acres were purchased for the new plant site.
The plant itself will only take up about 30 acres while the rest of the land will be a cushion area around the plant. The cushion area can also be used for future plant expansion.
With all the issues that have been raised about the current plant, officials decided to go ahead and build a new one rather than putting more money into the existing one, Mattox said.
He noted that the price of building a new plant is never going to get cheaper. This is also a good time to do the project since grant money has been acquired to help with the cost, he added.
USDA will provide an $8.1 million 35-year loan and a grant around $6 million to pay for the wastewater treatment plant.
The loan will be repaid with sewer rates, which went up 25 percent this summer to cover the cost of the debt. The average residential sewer bill is around $25 per month.
Once the new plant is built, the current treatment plant will be closed down, but there will still be a pump station at the existing site. The sewage will still be collected in an underground tank at the current site and then pushed through the pressure line to the new plant.
Most of the sewer lagoons at the current site will also be closed, but one of the lagoons is expected to remain in place for emergency storage if the pump station failed.