MAWSS Building Basins to Tackle Sewage Overflows

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — More than a 150,000 gallons of sewage overflowed in the Mobile area during Hurricane Nate. But the Mobile Area Water and Sewer Service is trying to do something about it.

Whether it’s during a hurricane or simply during one of our plentiful storms, sewage overflows are a big, disgusting, unhealthy problem with no cheap solution.

“We need to make the public understand that we have a huge problem with our infrastructure,” said MAWSS’ Public Affairs Manager Barbara Shaw.

More than half of Mobile’s sewer pipes are still clay, which can crack and fracture during heavy rain, causing a mixture of sewage and stormwater to overflow. Replacing the all the old pipes is the obvious, but outrageously expensive, option.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Douglas Cote, MAWSS’ Asst. Director of Operations.

So what MAWSS is doing in the short term is creating several catch basins around the area that will collect water during major rain falls.

“What we’re going to do here is pull the increased flows off the sewer that results from storm water inundating the collection system during rain events,” Cote said.

One “Severe Weather Attenuation Basin” is under construction in the Halls Mill Creek/Riviere du Chien area just south of Interstate-10. It’s costing MAWSS more than eight million-dollars but that’s a much more affordable option at this point that engineers hope will get some of the job done.

“(The basins) allow us to pull the water off the collection system during the rain events and store it so it doesn’t exit the manholes,” Cote said. “And then, when the rain subsides, and the flows in the sewer subside, then we drain these facilities back into the sewer and send it to the treatment plant.”

This basin should be ready by April. Others will be built near Three Mile Creek and the Eslava Creek – Dog River confluence.

MAWSS receives no tax dollars, nor any federal grants. So, any and all improvements will be fully funded by its customers.

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