The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 25, 2013

LCWSA pipeline project progressing

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— The Decatur Crossing pipeline is on the horizon as permitting for the project is nearing completion and an agreement is being finalized between the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority and Decatur Utilities.

The LCWSA, which serves 20,300 customers, wants to purchase water from Decatur Utilities. Decatur owns a treatment plant capable of treating 68 million gallons a day for its approximately 25,000 water customers.

The LCWSA, which is awaiting final approval for environmental permits overseen by the Tennessee Valley Authority, proposes to build a 36-inch pipeline under the Tennessee River to pump water from Decatur into southern Limestone County.

LCWSA General Manager Byron Cook said once the construction phase of the project begins, the entire pipeline project would take up to 3 1/2 years to complete, and cost between $10 and $11 million.

“We are still in discussion with Decatur but it will help us tremendously with our water services,” Cook said. “We could buy up to 7 million gallons per day, which would be phased in over time. If we needed more, we would just have to notify them in advance.”

The LCWSA currently has the capacity to produce 6,000 gallons a minute, or 9 million gallons of water per day.

Cook said he would welcome being able to begin the project as early as this summer or fall but a timetable is unavailable until the permits are processed and an agreement is finalized with Decatur.

“It has been a long-term project, and it’s time-consuming to through something like this,” he said. “But I have been pleasantly surprised there haven’t been any bumps so far.”

Cook said the proposed pipeline is composed of ductile iron with a concrete lining, and the project needs a subterranean drilling company capable of running a pipeline 35 to 40 feet below the riverbed.

“When you do a project like this, you only want to do it once,” he said. “We’ll let the bids out as quickly as possible to begin construction on our water pipeline. This will be between U.S. 31 and the southbound bridge, on a small slice of land that’s not the wildlife refuge.”

Cook said the pipeline would go under the river because the existing water lines on the Tennessee River bridges would not support a 36-inch pipeline.

“It can’t hang on the bridges because they’re not designed for that much weight,” he said.

Other projects

The LCWSA, which has an annual operating budget of $10.7 million, plans to continue an ongoing project to convert 3-inch water lines to at least 8 inches or more in diameter.

Cook said the LCWSA funnels surplus money toward improving the water and sewer system. The authority has about 1,200 miles of infrastructure to maintain in its coverage area.

Within the next few months, the LCWSA will provide connect sewage to the $500 million Carpenter Technology plant being built in Tanner. The LCWSA is paying $140,000 of the estimated $930,000 cost for sewage connections.