City presented with preliminary tactical plan to address water infrastructure

Starkville Utilities Department General Manager Terry Kemp provided a presentation to the Starkville Board of Aldermen during its work session to discuss how the city will address the water infrastructure rehabilitation in areas experiencing failures. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Logan Kirkland
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen discussed a more in-depth plan on how the city will address aging water infrastructure during its work session on Friday.

Mayor Lynn Spruill had previously voiced her concerns about the city's infrastructure needs earlier this month on how the board needs to be proactive, rather than reactive.

Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp provided a presentation to the aldermen, to discuss how the city will address the infrastructure rehabilitation in areas experiencing failures.

Both Kemp and Spruill said the first location to receive infrastructure repairs will be Pleasant Acres due to both the call volume and repairs Starkville Utilities receives.

"That is generating the most calls and most repairs for the utilities department," Spruill said. "Rather than keep responding on a maintenance basis, for leaks, we want to go ahead and replace it, and have it done for hopefully 50 or 60 years."

Kemp said the city currently maintains over 200 miles of sewage collection systems and almost 200 miles of water lines.

"A lot of that infrastructure was put in as y'all know many, many years ago," Kemp said. "This is a proactive approach to start rebuilding critical areas."

Kemp said Pleasant Acres surfaced as a top priority after doing a study on failing systems and their call logs.

He said there are about 100 houses and families in that particular community. He said the second area Starkville Utilities will address is Green Oaks and then Rolling Hills.

"If we start where some of the real bad areas are and get those behind us," Kemp said. "Then those dollars get diverted somewhere else."

Due to the size of Green Oaks, Kemp said they will more than likely divide the subdivision into four sections to do the analysis of the infrastructure needs.

"That's just a process to manage it," Kemp said. "So we get a good product at the end and less disruptive to the customers and manage costs associated with it."

He said currently the plans for Rolling Hills is in the preliminary stages. He said Starkville Utilities will continue maintenance and addressing issues throughout the different pockets in town.

Kemp said as the department progresses in the infrastructure upgrades, he anticipates more engineering studies to take place.

As for the current step, Kemp is asking the board to authorize his department to receive bids from contractors to hopefully begin the work in the fall.

"My intent on that is to try to use capital funds that we have put in our budget this year to kind of get the ball rolling as it relates to this particular project," Kemp said.

Kemp said this will provide the opportunity for the department to consolidate three different water pipes into one waterline, creating better service for residents and less trouble in the long run.

Spruill said she wanted to make clear that in the bids with the contractors, replacing the interrupted landscaping would be of the utmost importance. She said the landscaping would need to be at a "reasonable and acceptable level."

Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she can’t emphasize enough to the people in the community on how this is a "messy" proposition.

"It's going to be unpleasant for a little while, but it will be a marked improvement and will be worth the disruption that they're going to have to suffer through," Sistrunk said.

Kemp said the department will be in the areas for surveys, and will be in contact with homeowners once the contracts are complete.

Spruill said Starkville Utilities needs to be completely certain they are in contact with the neighborhoods before moving in to work, through both social media and mailing.

"We're starting to do a lot more detailed engineering studies," Kemp said. "We really feel like this is a great place to start."