Uniontown needs $4M-plus sewage upgrade

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

By Taylor Holland

The Selma Times-Journal

UNIONTOWN — A team of Tuscaloosa-based engineers has a $4.4 million plan in place to both replace and upgrade Uniontown’s sewage system, which last month leaked into various area waterways causing complaints of discolored, foul-smelling water.

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The plan, which is expected to take no more than a year and a half to complete, includes repairing the city’s sewer lines, expanding their spray fields and completely renovating their wastewater treatment plant.

Gilbert Sentell, president of Sentell Engineering Inc., the company tasked with the renovations, said the firm and city have been seeking a solution to Uniontown’s untreated wastewater leakage since at least 2005.

The biggest problem the two have run into since that time revolves around finances.

“They’ve been trying to find funding for this project,” Sentell said. “They’re a low-income city and it’s just hard with the way the economy’s been; it’s hard to find any money.”

Sentell said the city was looking to various state agencies, in conjunction with some other grants, to help finance the repairs and upgrades.

“I know we’re applying for a Rural Development loan and grant,” he said. “We even talked to [the Alabama Department of Environmental Management] about using some of the state’s revolving fund money and then maybe some smaller grants from places like the Delta Regional Authority to try to help offset some of the costs.”

Last month, ADEM announced scientists within the agency had mobilized to observe and document visual impacts to water quality in both Freetown Creek and Chilatchee Creek, located on Alabama Highway 66, after receiving complaints from residents.

Since the complaints were filed, ADEM officials have been in touch with Uniontown on a daily based and overseen the cleanup of the creeks.

“If we can get the money to do the project, we can fix their problem,” Sentell said.

During Monday’s Dallas County Commission meeting, Dallas County Emergency Management Agency director Rhonda Abbott said ADEM officials had told her the water in Chilatchee Creek had been cleared by the agency.

Numerous calls placed to Uniontown Mayor Jamaal Hunter and ADEM were unreturned Tuesday.