This week the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) approved an $18.5 million pipeline project to transport water from northeast reservoirs to customers at the southern end of its coverage area, who get their water from Purdy Lake.
The project would be Phase 6D of the Carson Loop pipeline project that has been in progress for over a decade according to past BWWB meeting minutes.
In that time, the utility spent more than $33 million on the project and completed 16 different phases, or 34 miles of piping, according to BWWB spokesman Rick Jackson.
According to BWWB assistant general manager Derrick Murphy, the completion of this phase will help protect customers from the risk of drought.
“Lake Purdy is an important water source for southern Jefferson and northern Shelby counties and having water sources from other parts of the network will help protect the system from drought and improve our overall distribution,” Murphy said in a press release later this week. The system will improve.” meeting.
“This important infrastructure project is necessary to provide potable [drinkable] Water from the Cahaba Valley Service Area through the Carson Filter Plant and the Eastern High Service Area through the Shades Mountain Intermediate Service Area supplied by the Shades Mountain Filter Plant. The project will reduce raw water withdrawals into Lake Purdy during periods of high demand and times of drought and will also provide operational flexibility and redundancy to the Cahaba and Shades Mountain service areas in the distribution system.
This phase will include approximately 3,700 feet 36 inches of buried ductile iron cement lined pipe and fittings from Grand River West to Floyd Bradford Road and Amber Hills Road, according to this week’s press release. The project also included the construction of a 600-foot-long pipe bridge over the Cahaba River, an access road on either side of the bridge, and “other related site improvements”.
“The completion of Section 6D is a major milestone that will enable BWW to increase the supply of water to the distribution system,” Jackson said.
He had earlier said that the estimated time of completion of the project is a little over a year from now. Local contractor Russo Corporation was awarded the project as the least “responsible and responsive bidder,” according to this week’s press release.
BWWB has hired Alabama-based consultants Volkert, Inc. to engineer and oversee construction of Carson Loop Phase 6D in the fall of 2022. With the approved scope of services.
The board said that after the completion of this phase, the project will be assessed as to how effective it is and how many phases are left.
Jackson previously said that the BWWB plans to install similar piping at other locations in the future, but the timing of this will depend on how much funding is needed for other improvement projects in the coming years.
He explained that obtaining permits, as well as allocating funds, acquiring property and amenities, and designing phases are some of the reasons why Carson Loop has been such a long process.
In a previous email to The Leday reporter, Jackson said, “The planning and installation of large transmission infrastructure in multiple city and county districts is complex and must be coordinated with resources allocated to BWW’s capital improvement program.”
BWWB also plans to spend $2 million in 2023 to repair the Lake Purdy reservoir.
Both of these programs fall under BWWB’s 5-year strategic plan, which focuses on improvements in the following six areas, according to the utility’s website:
· product quality
· customer service
· corporate governance
While BWWB plans to improve in the future, some say their focus should be on the now.
“We are now running a new water line to facilitate more development on the mountain without helping ratepayers who are struggling to pay their bills,” said Peggy Gargis, a BWWB customer earlier. “Why are we investing so much money in building new development that filters water for free, instead of protecting watershed land?”
In his question Gargis referenced an ongoing legal battle between environmental groups and the BWWB over legal promises from the utility to protect local watershed lands.
As Lede previously pointed out, the BWWB originally had the case dismissed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, but the groups appealed it to the Alabama Supreme Court, which recently ruled that the BWWB was in breach of their 2001 agreement. The protection aspect is broken.
Some BWWB customers say that the Carson Loop project alone has already created negative environmental impacts.
“Since they completed Phase 6C in Liberty Park, every time it rains the sediment goes into Cahaba, so I don’t know who really wanted it,” said Dancy LeCroy, a local environmentalist who previously was a longtime member of the BWWB. He was a public opponent.
Jackson wrote the following in an email response this week.
“Construction on Carson Loop 6C was completed in 2017,” Jackson wrote. “BWW followed all erosion control best practices and secured the necessary permits as it relates to this project. Watershed protection is an important priority for Birmingham Water Works.”