City leaders discuss water issues

In its continued efforts to address public concerns regarding brown or dirty water within the city limits, representatives of the City of New Albany have gone to community groups to discuss the issue.

Jeff Olson with the New Albany Board of Aldermen discussed the issue, along with ways to fix this problem, last Thursday night at the Historic Northside Neighborhood Association meeting.
“I have talked to Bill Mattox about the brown water. In the eastern part of New Albany, water pressure is the issue. In other areas of New Albany, brown water is the main issue,” said Olson.
He told the audience that in the near future in New Albany, there is a $3.5 million project that includes digging underground, adding a new water tower, adding two new wells, and adding another pumping station.
“The next target area for that project is the Historic Northside Neighborhood. It will be a major undertaking. We had talked about buying a boring machine, but we might be able to bore underneath instead of cutting up the streets,” said Olson. “We will replace the oldest water lines – we have already replaced some of the sewer lines. We will look at block grants to fund this project. Some of the water lines in this neighborhood are 105 years or older.”
Earlier in January, Mattox, along with Fred Brooks and Mike Faulkner, both engineers with Engineering Solutions Inc. out of Tupelo, recommended against constructing a centralized water treatment facility in order to combat the manganese buildup.
“We have seven wells through which we supply the water to different areas to the city and they are spread out,” Mattox said.  “If, however, we built a centralized location and brought the wells together, that would decrease our water levels and we would start to see more sand in the water.  It would also be a very expensive project to undertake.”
Currently, the city’s crews periodically treat the water at each well with phospates, which help to erode some of the manganese buildup, Mattox said.
“Again, we just want to make sure we are going through the right steps when we flush the lines,” Mattox said, adding that he will be consulting with Brooks and Faulkner about this process.
In addition to these steps, Mattox said he plans to implement a third one, known as “pigging.”
“Basically, in this process, we will create two breaks in the line,” Mattox said.  “We’ll have to valve off all of the surface pipes that go to houses or businesses.  Then we would insert a large plug, made of porous material, into the line and use it to push out the sludge at the other break in the line.  This second break would be in an area where we could logically let the sludge exit and may have to pump it out.”
Olson and New Albany Mayor Tim Kent agreed that the city may have to conduct line “pigging,” which would clean the insides out of the water pipes.
Kent said, “We will clean the insides out of the water pipes that can be cleaned and replace the ones we cannot.”
Mattox said this pigging process is relatively inexpensive and is widely used in other places.